Overlap extension represents a new approach to genetic engineering. Complementary oligodeoxyribonucleotide (oligo) primers and the polymerase chain reaction are used to generate two DNA fragments having overlapping ends. These fragments are combined in a subsequent 'fusion' reaction in which the overlapping ends anneal, allowing the 3' overlap of each strand to serve as a primer for the 3' extension of the complementary strand. The resulting fusion product is amplified further by PCR. Specific alterations in the nucleotide (nt) sequence can be introduced by incorporating nucleotide changes into the overlapping oligo primers. Using this technique of site-directed mutagenesis, three variants of a mouse major histocompatibility complex class-I gene have been generated, cloned and analyzed. Screening of mutant clones revealed at least a 98% efficiency of mutagenesis. All clones sequenced contained the desired mutations, and a low frequency of random substitution estimated to occur at approx. 1 in 4000 nt was detected. This method represents a significant improvement over standard methods of site-directed mutagenesis because it is much faster, simpler and approaches 100% efficiency in the generation of mutant product.