The YXDD motif is highly conserved in the reverse transcriptase family. The variable X residue is occupied by valine and methionine in MuLV RT and HIV-1 RT, respectively. Previous studies have shown that Tyr 222, the Y residue of the YXDD motif in MuLV RT, constitutes a major component of the fidelity center of the enzyme [Kaushik, N., Singh, K., Alluru, I., and Modak, M. J. (1999) Biochemistry 38, 2617-2627]. In this work, we present evidence that reverse transcriptases containing valine in the "X" position of the YXDD motif generally catalyze DNA synthesis with greater fidelity than those containing methionine or alanine. In the MuLV RT system, the two mutants V223M and V223A exhibited an overall reduced fidelity of DNA synthesis, specifically for RNA-templated reactions. Further analysis revealed that these mutants exhibit a higher efficiency of misinsertion on MS2 RNA than the wild-type enzyme for every mispair tested. However, unlike HIV-1 RT, the insensitivity of the wild-type MuLV RT to all four ddNTPs remained unchanged by mutation of V223 to Met or Ala. A 3D molecular model of the ternary complex of MuLV RT, template primer, and dNTP suggests that Val 223 along with its neighboring Tyr 222 stabilizes the substrate binding pocket via hydrophobic interactions with the dNTP substrate and template-primer.