Purified calf thymus DNA polymerases delta I and II each have an associated 3' to 5' exonuclease but otherwise resemble DNA polymerase alpha in size, biochemical kinetic parameters, and the presence of DNA primase [Crute, J. J., Wahl, A. F., & Bambara, R. A. (1986) Biochemistry 25, 26-36]. Here we demonstrate a functional association of polymerase and exonuclease with each delta form. Furthermore, we show that the exonuclease can be dissociated from DNA polymerase delta I but does not appear to be removable from DNA polymerase delta II. Polymerases delta I, delta II, and alpha are equally sensitive to the inhibitor aphidicolin, suggesting a similarity in active site structure. In comparison with DNA polymerase alpha and delta II, DNA polymerase delta I has intermediate sensitivity to 2-(p-n-butylanilino)-2'-deoxyadenosine 5'-triphosphate (BuAdATP) or N2-(p-n-butylphenyl)-2'-deoxyguanosine 5'-triphosphate (BuPdGTP). The activity of the DNA primase of the delta II enzyme is insensitive to BuAdATP whereas 1.0 microM of this inhibitor will decrease the activity of the DNA primase of the alpha and delta I enzymes approximately 50%. Two monoclonal antibodies that potently inhibit DNA polymerase alpha are only slightly inhibitory to DNA polymerase delta I and are ineffective at inhibiting DNA polymerase delta II. DNA polymerase delta II had been previously found to be nearly inactive on nuclease-treated calf thymus DNA, relative to its activity on homopolymeric DNA. We find that addition of purified calf histone proteins or spermidine can greatly enhance synthesis by this enzyme on activated calf DNA.