The DNA polymerase-primase from Drosophila melanogaster contains a cryptic 3'----5' exonuclease that can be detected after separation of the 182-kDa polymerase subunit from the four-subunit enzyme. To determine the specificity of excision of mispaired nucleotides by the exonuclease, we have utilized primed phi X174am3 single-stranded DNA containing a noncomplementary nucleotide at the 3'-primer terminus, opposite deoxyadenosine at position 587 in the amber3 codon of the template strand. In the absence of polymerization, the preference for excision of the mispaired nucleotide from the primer is C greater than A much greater than G. Excision under these conditions is inhibited by the addition of deoxyguanosine monophosphate. Under conditions of concomitant DNA synthesis, the preference for excision at this site becomes A = G much greater than C, and excision is insensitive to deoxyguanosine monophosphate. The high fidelity of DNA synthesis exhibited by the isolated 182-kDa polymerase subunit is not reduced by concentrations of deoxyguanosine monophosphate or adenosine monophosphate that inhibit proofreading by prokaryotic DNA polymerases. Thus, the 3'----5' exonuclease of the Drosophila DNA polymerase-primase participates in exonucleolytic proofreading by excising noncomplementary nucleotides prior to extension of the primer by polymerase action. The deoxynucleoside triphosphate analogs N2-(p-butylphenyl)deoxyguanosine triphosphate and N2-(p-butylphenyl)deoxyadenosine triphosphate are potent inhibitors of DNA polymerase alpha. Like calf thymus DNA polymerase delta, recently determined to have proofreading capability, DNA synthesis by the isolated Drosophila 182-kDa polymerase subunit was not inhibited by the two analogs. In contrast, DNA synthesis by the intact Drosophila polymerase-primase complex was inhibited greater than 95% by these analogs.