Somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin genes is a unique, targeted, adaptive process. While B cells are engaged in germinal centres in T-dependent responses, single base substitutions are introduced in the expressed Vh/Vl genes to allow the selection of mutants with a higher affinity for the immunizing antigen. Almost every possible DNA transaction has been proposed to explain this process, but each of these models includes an error-prone DNA synthesis step that introduces the mutations. The Y family of DNA polymerases--pol eta, pol iota, pol kappa and rev1--are specialized for copying DNA lesions and have high rates of error when copying a normal DNA template. By performing gene inactivation in a Burkitt's lymphoma cell line inducible for hypermutation, we show here that somatic hypermutation is dependent on DNA polymerase iota.