The cloning and complete sequencing of gene 2 from four independently isolated temperature-sensitive mutants in the phage phi 29 DNA polymerase (ts2 mutants) is reported. The results obtained indicate that, in vivo, the mutations only affect the initial steps of the replication process. Interestingly, three of these mutations consist in the single amino acid change Ala to Val at position 492 of the protein. The ts2(24) and ts2(98) mutant phi 29 DNA polymerases were expressed, purified and their thermosensitivity was studied at two different steps of DNA replication: 1) protein-primed initiation and 2) elongation of the DNA chain. Whereas the ts2(24) mutation gave rise to a temperature-sensitive phenotype in both reactions, the ts2(98) mutant protein was rather insensitive to the temperature increase. In addition, the ts2(98) mutant protein showed clear differences in the activation by divalent cations. The relationship of these results with structural and functional domains in the phi 29 DNA polymerase are discussed.