Human DNA polymerase iota (hPoliota) promotes translesion synthesis by inserting nucleotides opposite highly distorting or noninstructional DNA lesions. Here, we provide evidence for the physical interaction of hPoliota with proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and show that PCNA, together with replication factor C (RFC) and replication protein A (RPA), stimulates the DNA synthetic activity of hPoliota. In the presence of these protein factors, on undamaged DNA, the efficiency (V(max)/K(m)) of correct nucleotide incorporation by hPoliota is increased approximately 80-150-fold, and this increase in efficiency results from a reduction in the apparent K(m) for the nucleotide. PCNA, RFC, and RPA also stimulate nucleotide incorporation opposite the 3'-T of the (6) thymine-thymine (T-T) photoproduct and opposite an abasic site. The interaction of hPoliota with PCNA implies that the targeting of this polymerase to the replication machinery stalled at a lesion site is achieved via this association.