A simple and rapid method for cloning of amplification products directly from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been developed. The method is based on the addition of a 12-base dUMP-containing sequence (CUACUACUACUA) to the 5' end of PCR primers. Incorporation of these primers during PCR results in the selective placement of dUMP residues into the 5' end of amplification products. Selective degradation of the dUMP residues in the PCR products with uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG) disrupts base pairing at the termini and generates 3' overhangs. Annealing of 3' protruding termini to vector DNA containing complementary 3' ends results in chimeric molecules which can be transformed, with high efficiency, without in vitro ligation. Directional cloning of PCR products has also been accomplished by incorporating different dU-containing sequences at the end of each PCR primer. Substitution of all dT residues in PCR primers with dU eliminates cloning of aberrant "primer dimer" products and enriches cloning of genuine PCR products. The method has been applied to cloning of inter-Alu DNA sequences from human placental DNA. Using a single primer, DNA sequences between appropriately oriented Alu sequences were amplified and cloned. Cloning of cDNA for the glyceraldehyde-3'-phosphate dehydrogenase gene from rat brain RNA was also demonstrated. The 3' end region of this gene was amplified by the 3' RACE method and the amplified DNA was cloned after UDG digestion. Characterization of cloned DNAs by sequence analysis showed accurate repair of the cloning junctions. The ligase-free cloning method with UDG should prove to be a widely applicable procedure for rapid cloning of PCR-amplified DNA.