A specific inhibitor of DNA polymerase alpha was isolated from the lipid fraction prepared from myxoamoebae of a true slime mold, Physarum polycephalum. The purified substance was subjected to structural studies by fast atom bombardment mass spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The structure of this substance was thereby suggested to be a novel lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) composed of cyclic phosphate and cyclopropane-containing hexadecanoic acid. Then we named this substance PHYLPA (Physarum LPA). PHYLPA inhibited more than 80% of the affinity-purified calf thymus DNA polymerase alpha activity at a concentration of 10 micrograms/ml (approximately 20 microM). Inhibition was observed for DNA polymerase alpha but not for DNA polymerase beta or gamma from various eukaryotic species, nor did it inhibit DNA polymerase I from E. coli. From kinetic analyses, the inhibition was considered to be caused by the interaction of PHYLPA with the template DNA.