DNA polymerases normally catalyze DNA synthesis in a template-directed manner. Generally, the continuity of the phosphodiester backbone of the template strand was thought to be an absolute requirement for DNA synthesis. Here, I demonstrate that a 3'-exonuclease-deficient derivative of the Klenow (large) fragment of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I (PolIk) can carry out DNA synthesis on discontinuous templates in vitro. Addition of multiple nucleotides (nt) to the 3' end of a blunt-end duplex, templated by unlinked single-stranded oligodeoxyribonucleotides (oligos), was monitored electrophoretically. The reaction was demonstrable with either homopolymers or mixed-sequence oligos, but showed a requirement for complementarity between the first nt added to the duplex and the 3' nt of the unlinked oligo. These results demonstrate that continuity of the phosphodiester backbone of the template strand is not absolutely required for in vitro DNA synthesis by a 3'-exonuclease-deficient form of PolIk.