DNA polymerase delta (Pol delta), which plays keys roles in DNA replication, repair and recombination in eukaryotic cells, comprises at least two essential subunits - a large catalytic subunit (PolD1) possessing both DNA polymerase and 3'-5' exonuclease activities, and a smaller subunit (PolD2) whose function is not yet clear. Here we describe the cloning and sequencing of a Xenopus cDNA encoding a homologue of the PolD2 subunit. This protein (designated XlCdc1) is 69% identical to the human PolD2 protein and 34% identical to fission yeast Cdc1. Alignment of PolD2 protein sequences across ten eukaryotic species identifies 36 invariant amino-acid positions. These 36 residues are located within ten conserved regions (designated I-X) likely to have key functional roles. Consistent with this, the mutations in six previously identified yeast mutant PolD2 proteins map within conserved regions III, VI, VII and VIII. Several of the invariant amino acids are also conserved across the archaeal DNA polymerase II DP1 protein family.