The immunopurified yeast DNA-polymerase-I--DNA-primase complex synthesizes oligo(rA) and oligo(rG) molecules that are used as primer for replication of poly(dT) and poly(dC). Neither initiation nor DNA synthesis is observed with poly(dA) and poly(dI). Nitrocellulose-filter binding shows that the enzyme complex binds to deoxypyrimidine polymers, but not to deoxypurine polymers. Although the yeast complex initiates DNA synthesis on deoxypyrimidine homopolymers, it prefers to elongate pre-existing primer molecules rather than to initiate de novo DNA replication. The size of the oligo(rA) and oligo(rG) primer molecules has been determined by urea/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis: longer oligoribonucleotides are synthesized when their utilization is prevented by omitting dNTP. An oligodeoxythymidylate template with a chain length as short as five residues can support oligo(rA) synthesis catalyzed by the yeast DNA-polymerase--DNA-primase complex and the size of the oligoribonucleotide products synthesized with oligodeoxythymidylate of differing chain length has also been determined. The mechanistic properties of the DNA-polymerase--DNA-primase complexes, purified from different eukaryotic organisms, appear to be very similar. The possible biological implication of the studies on the mechanism and specificity of initiation of DNA synthesis in a well-defined model template system has been discussed.