The expression of DNA polymerase alpha, a principal chromosome replication enzyme, is constitutive during the cell cycle. We show in this report that DNA polymerase alpha catalytic polypeptide p180 is phosphorylated throughout the cell cycle and is hyperphosphorylated in G2/M phase. The p70 subunit is phosphorylated only in G2/M phase. This cell cycle-dependent phosphorylation is due to cell cycle-dependent kinase(s) and not to phosphatase(s). In vitro evidence indicates the involvement of p34cdc2 kinase in the mitotic phosphorylation of DNA polymerase alpha. Tryptic phosphopeptide maps demonstrate that peptides phosphorylated in vitro are identical to those phosphorylated in vivo. DNA polymerase alpha from mitotic cells is found to have lower affinity for single-stranded DNA than does polymerase alpha from G1/S phase cells. These results imply that the mitotic phosphorylation of polymerase alpha may affect its physical interaction with other replicative proteins and/or with DNA at the replication fork.