PriA, PriB and PriC were originally discovered as proteins essential for the PhiX174 in vitro DNA replication system. Recent studies have shown that PriA mutants are poorly viable, have high basal levels of SOS expression (SOSH), are recombination deficient (Rec-), sensitive to UV irradiation (UVS) and sensitive to rich media. These data suggest that priA's role may be more complex than previously thought and may involve both DNA replication and homologous recombination. Based on the PhiX174 system, mutations in priB and priC should cause phenotypes like those seen in priA2:kan mutants. To test this, mutations in priB and priC were constructed. We found that, contrary to the PhiX174 model, del(priB)302 and priC303:kan mutants have almost wild-type phenotypes. Most unexpectedly, we then found that the priBC double mutant had very poor viability and/or a slow growth rate (even less than a priA2:kan mutant). This suggests that priB and priC have a redundant and important role in Escherichia coli. The priA2:kan suppressor, dnaC809, partially suppressed the poor viability/slow growth phenotype of the priBC double mutant. The resulting triple mutant (priBC dnaC809 ) had small colony size, recombination deficiency and levels of SOS expression similar to a priA2:kan mutant. The priBC dnaC809 mutant, however, was moderately UVR and had good viability, unlike a priA2:kan mutant. Additional mutations in the triple mutant were selected to suppress the slow growth phenotype. One suppressor restored all phenotypes tested to nearly wild-type levels. This mutation was identified as dnaC820 (K178N) [mapping just downstream of dnaC809 (E176G)]. Experiments suggest that dnaC820 makes dnaC809 suppression of priA and or priBC mutants priB and or priC independent. A model is proposed for the roles of these proteins in terms of restarting collapsed replication forks from recombinational intermediates.