The DNA polymerases (gp43s) of the related bacteriophages T4 and RB69 are B family (polymerase alpha class) enzymes that determine the fidelity of phage DNA replication. A T4 whose gene 43 has been mutationally inactivated can be replicated by a cognate RB69 gp43 encoded by a recombinant plasmid in T4-infected Escherichia coli. We used this phage-plasmid complementation assay to obtain rapid and sensitive measurements of the mutational specificities of mutator derivatives of the RB69 enzyme. RB69 gp43s lacking proofreading function (Exo(-) enzymes) and/or substituted with alanine, serine, or threonine at the conserved polymerase function residue Tyr(567) (Pol(Y567(A/S/T)) enzymes) were examined for their effects on the reversion of specific mutations in the T4 rII gene and on forward mutation in the T4 rI gene. The results reveal that Tyr(567) is a key determinant of the fidelity of base selection and that the Pol and Exo functions are strongly coupled in this B family enzyme. In vitro assays show that the Pol(Y567A) Exo(-) enzyme generates mispairs more frequently but extends them less efficiently than does a Pol(+) Exo(-) enzyme. Other replicative DNA polymerases may control fidelity by strategies similar to those used by RB69 gp43.