We investigated DNA metabolism in Escherichia coli cells carrying the multicopy recD+ plasmid (pKI13). In the presence of pKI13, the cellular level of the recD gene product (RecD polypeptide) is amplified at least 60-fold. Overproduction of the RecD polypeptide has no effect on UV repair and conjugational recombination. In contrast, high cellular levels of this polypeptide sensitize wild-type cells to gamma-radiation; also, they increase the rate of radiation-induced DNA degradation. A possible mechanism for the enhancement of gamma-ray-induced killing by large amounts of the RecD polypeptide is discussed.