Single-stranded plasmid DNA, containing the mnt gene, was replicated in vitro with DNA polymerase III holoenzyme. Escherichia coli mutH bacteria, defective in mismatch repair, were transformed with the products of in vitro synthesis. Mutations in mnt were readily identified and 33 out of 65 isolates were single base changes including transition, transversion and frameshift mutations. The remaining 32 isolates were deletions of apparently random length and substitutions (deletion/insertions). The intergenic deletions as well as the transition and frameshift mutations were identical to those previously isolated from mismatch repair-defective cells in vivo.