There is rising evidence that cancer development is associated from its earliest stages with DNA replication stress, a major source of spontaneous genomic instability. However, the origin of these replication defects has remained unclear. We have investigated the consequences of upregulating error-prone DNA polymerases (pol) beta and kappa on chromosomal DNA replication. These enzymes are misregulated in different types of cancers and induce major chromosomal instabilities when overexpressed at low levels. Here, we have used DNA combing to show that a moderate overexpression of pol beta or pol kappa is sufficient to impede replication fork progression and to promote the activation of additional replication origins. Interestingly, alterations of the normal replication program induced by excess error-prone polymerases were not detected by the replication checkpoint. We therefore propose that upregulation of error-prone DNA polymerases induces a checkpoint-blind replication stress that contributes to genomic instability and to cancer development.