A 70-kDa chloroplast (ct) DNA polymerase from pea has been purified to apparent homogeneity. The ct DNA polymerase was insensitive to dideoxynucleotides (d(2) NTP) but showed high sensitivity to phosphonoacetic acid. The enzyme lacked any detectable 5'-->3' exonuclease activity but showed 3'-->5' exonuclease activity. The polymerase displayed high processivity (3 kb) and moderate fidelity, which may be sufficient for the faithful replication of the 140-kb pea ct genome. A 43-kDa accessory protein increased the polymerization rate but did not affect the rate of mis-incorporation in vitro, thus indicating that the domains for polymerisation and proof reading may be spatially separate.