Although very little replication past a T-T cis-syn cyclobutane dimer normally takes place in Escherichia coli in the absence of DNA polymerase V (Pol V), we previously observed as much as half of the wild-type bypass frequency in Pol V-deficient (DeltaumuDC) strains if the 3' to 5' exonuclease proofreading activity of the Pol III epsilon subunit was also disabled by mutD5. This observation might be explained in at least two ways. In the absence of Pol V, wild-type Pol III might bind preferentially to the blocked primer terminus but be incapable of bypass, whereas the proofreading-deficient enzyme might dissociate more readily, providing access to bypass polymerases. Alternatively, even though wild-type Pol III is generally regarded as being incapable of lesion bypass, proofreading-impaired Pol III might itself perform this function. We have investigated this issue by examining dimer bypass frequencies in DeltaumuDC mutD5 strains that were also deficient for Pol I, Pol II, and Pol IV, both singly and in all combinations. Dimer bypass frequencies were not decreased in any of these strains and indeed in some were increased to levels approaching those found in strains containing Pol V. Efficient dimer bypass was, however, entirely dependent on the proofreading deficiency imparted by mutD5, indicating the surprising conclusion that bypass was probably performed by the mutD5 Pol III enzyme itself. This mutant polymerase does not replicate past the much more distorted T-T (6-4) photoadduct, however, suggesting that it may only replicate past lesions, like the T-T dimer, that form base pairs normally.