An enzymatic activity in crude extracts of macronuclei from the hypotrichous ciliate Oxytricha nova catalyzes the synthesis of RNA consisting of (C4A4)n using an oligodeoxynucleotide template of the telomeric sequence (dG4T4)n. Single-stranded (dG4T4)n is an effective template if it has a random sequence at its 5' end. The enzyme will not use a (dG4T4)n template of any length (up to 64 bases) if it lacks a random sequence at the 5' end. With a random, single-stranded sequence at the 5' end, the (dG4T4)n oligodeoxynucleotide must be at least 36 bases long to work as a template. A 16-base, single-stranded region of (dG4T4)2 is an effective template when joined to a 20-base double-stranded region of (dG4T4)n/(dA4dC4)n, a structural arrangement that is the same as the native telomere of Oxytricha macronuclear DNA. The RNA-synthesizing activity is unaffected by 1.0 mg/ml of alpha-amanitin. Macronuclear extracts have an alpha-amanitin-insensitive, RNA-polymerizing activity that can use a random 55mer oligodeoxynucleotide as a template. This enzyme activity may be the same one that uses (dG4T4)n templates to make (C4A4)n RNA. The (C4A4)n RNA made in the reaction can prime DNA synthesis by the E. coli DNA polymerase I Klenow fragment. Therefore, the RNA polymerase activity fulfills the requirements of the telomere DNA primase that we postulated for replication of telomeres in hypotrichs (Zahler and Prescott, 1988, Nucleic Acids Research 16, 6953-6972).