The XP-V (xeroderma pigmentosum variant) gene product, human DNA polymerase eta (pol eta), catalyzes efficient and accurate translesion synthesis (TLS) past cis-syn thymine-thymine dimers (TT dimer). In addition, recent reports suggest that pol eta is involved in TLS past various other types of lesion, including an oxidative DNA damage, 8-hydroxyguanine. Here, we compare the abilities of pol alpha and pol eta to replicate across thymine glycol (Tg) using purified synthetic oligomers containing a 5R- or 5S-Tg. DNA synthesis by pol alpha was inhibited at both steps of insertion of a nucleotide opposite the lesion and extension from the resulting product, indicating that pol alpha can weakly contribute to TLS past Tg lesions. In contrast, pol eta catalyzed insertion opposite the lesion as efficient as that opposite undamaged T, while extension was inhibited especially on the 5S-Tg template. Thus, pol eta catalyzed relatively efficient TLS past 5R-Tg than 5S-Tg. To compare the TLS abilities of pol eta for these lesions, we determined the kinetic parameters of pol eta for catalyzing TLS past a TT dimer, an N-2-acetylaminofluorene-modified guanine, and an abasic site analogue. The possible mechanisms of pol eta-catalyzed TLS are discussed on the basis of these results.