From extracts of microplasmodia of Physarum polycephalum and their culture medium, an unusual substance was isolated which inhibited homologous DNA polymerase alpha of this slime mold but not beta-like DNA polymerase and not heterologous DNA polymerases. Analysis, especially NMR spectroscopy, revealed the major component to be an anionic polyester of L-malic acid and the inhibition to be due to poly(L-malate) in binding reversibly to DNA polymerase alpha. The mode of inhibition is competitive with substrate DNA and follows an inhibition constant Ki = 10 ng/mL. Inhibition is reversed in the presence of spermine, spermidine, poly(ethylene imine), and calf thymus histone H1. According to its ester nature, the inhibitor is slightly labile at neutral and instable at acid and alkaline conditions. Its largest size corresponds to a molecular mass of 40-50 kDa, but the bulk of the material after purification has lower molecular masses. The inhibitory activity depends on the polymer size and has a minimal size requirement.