Mutations in the human genome are clustered in hot-spot regions, suggesting that some sequences are more prone to accumulate mutations than others. These regions are therefore more likely to lead to the development of cancer. Several pathways leading to the creation of mutations may be influenced by the DNA sequence, including sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, and repair mechanisms. We have analyzed sequence context effects on translesion replication, the error-prone repair of single-stranded DNA regions carrying lesions. By using synthetic oligonucleotides containing systematic variations of sequences flanking a synthetic abasic site, we show that translesion replication by the repair polymerase DNA polymerase beta is stimulated to a moderate extent by low stacking levels of the template nucleotides downstream of the lesion, combined with homopolymeric runs flanking the lesion both upstream and downstream. A strong stimulation of translesion replication by DNA polymerase beta was seen when fork-like flap structures were introduced into the DNA substrate downstream of the lesion. Unlike for gapped substrates, this stimulation was independent of the presence of a phosphate group at the 5' terminus of the flap. These results suggest that DNA polymerase beta may participate in cellular DNA transactions involving higher order structures. The significance of these results for in vivo translesion replication is discussed.