The pcbA1 mutation allows DNA replication dependent on DNA polymerase I at the restrictive temperature in polC(Ts) strains. Cells which carry pcbA1, a functional DNA polymerase I, and a temperature-sensitive DNA polymerase III gene were used to study the role of DNA polymerase III in DNA repair. At the restrictive temperature for DNA polymerase III, these strains were more sensitive to the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) and hydrogen peroxide than normal cells. The same strains showed no increase in sensitivity to bleomycin, UV light, or psoralen at the restrictive temperature. The sensitivity of these strains to MMS and hydrogen peroxide was not due to the pcbAl allele, and normal sensitivity was restored by the introduction of a chromosomal or cloned DNA polymerase III gene, verifying that the sensitivity was due to loss of DNA polymerase III alpha-subunit activity. A functional DNA polymerase III is required for the reformation of high-molecular-weight DNA after treatment of cells with MMS or hydrogen peroxide, as demonstrated by alkaline sucrose sedimentation results. Thus, it appears that a functional DNA polymerase III is required for the optimal repair of DNA damage by MMS or hydrogen peroxide.