The intervening domain of the thermostable Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase (TAQ: polymerase), which has no catalytic activity, has been exchanged for the 3'-5' exonuclease domain of the homologous mesophile Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I (E.coli pol I) and the homologous thermostable Thermotoga neapolitana DNA polymerase (TNE: polymerase). Three chimeric DNA polymerases have been constructed using the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the Klenow fragment of the E.coli pol I and 3D models of the intervening and polymerase domains of the TAQ: polymerase and the TNE: polymerase: chimera TaqEc1 (exchange of residues 292-423 from TAQ: polymerase for residues 327-519 of E.coli pol I), chimera TaqTne1 (exchange of residues 292-423 of TAQ: polymerase for residues 295-485 of TNE: polymerase) and chimera TaqTne2 (exchange of residues 292-448 of TAQ: polymerase for residues 295-510 of TNE: polymerase). The chimera TaqEc1 showed characteristics from both parental polymerases at an intermediate temperature of 50 degrees C: high polymerase activity, processivity, 3'-5' exonuclease activity and proof-reading function. In comparison, the chimeras TaqTne1 and TaqTne2 showed no significant 3'-5' exonuclease activity and no proof-reading function. The chimera TaqTne1 showed an optimum temperature at 60 degrees C, decreased polymerase activity compared with the TAQ: polymerase and reduced processivity. The chimera TaqTne2 showed high polymerase activity at 72 degrees C, processivity and less reduced thermostability compared with the chimera TaqTne1.