Translesion replication is carried out in Escherichia coli by the SOS-inducible DNA polymerase V (UmuC), an error-prone polymerase, which is specialized for replicating through lesions in DNA, leading to the formation of mutations. Lesion bypass by pol V requires the SOS-regulated proteins UmuD' and RecA and the single-strand DNA-binding protein (SSB). Using an in vitro assay system for translesion replication based on a gapped plasmid carrying a site-specific synthetic abasic site, we show that the assembly of a RecA nucleoprotein filament is required for lesion bypass by pol V. This is based on the reaction requirements for stoichiometric amounts of RecA and for single-stranded gaps longer than 100 nucleotides and on direct visualization of RecA-DNA filaments by electron microscopy. SSB is likely to facilitate the assembly of the RecA nucleoprotein filament; however, it has at least one additional role in lesion bypass. ATPgammaS, which is known to strongly increase binding of RecA to DNA, caused a drastic inhibition of pol V activity. Lesion bypass does not require stoichiometric binding of UmuD' along RecA filaments. In summary, the RecA nucleoprotein filament, previously known to be required for SOS induction and homologous recombination, is also a critical intermediate in translesion replication.