Recent studies in our laboratory and others have demonstrated that DNA polymerase inhibitors such as the ara nucleosides, aphicolin and dideoxythymidine are potent inhibitors of the DNA excision repair process in confluent human fibroblasts as evidenced by the agent-dependent accumulation of single-strand interruptions in the DNA of UV-irradiated, but not in unirradiated, cellular DNA. In rapidly cycling cells, on the other hand, these agents are weak inhibitors at best but when used in combination with the ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor, hydroxyurea, a significant enhancement of inhibitory capacity is seen. In an attempt to better understand the mechanism of repair inhibition by DNA polymerase inhibitors, and the nature of this hydroxyurea enhancement, experiments were initiated in which the effects of a series of ribonucleotide reductase inhibitors on dNTP pools and on the DNA repair process were determined in both quiescent cultures and log-phase cultures of human fibroblasts. It was determined that hydroxyurea, deoxyadenosine, pyridine-2-carboxaldehyde thiosemicarbazone (TSC), pyrozoloimidazole (IMPY), 3,5-diamino-1,2,4-triazole (guanazole), 3,4,5-trihydroxy benzohydroxamic acid (THBA) and 3,4-dihydroxy benzohydroxamic acid (DHBA) are all effective inhibitors of the DNA repair process in confluent cells but not in log-phase cells. Moreover, the effects of these inhibitors can be reversed by the addition of certain combinations of deoxynucleosides. These reversal studies and the direct analysis of dNTP pool modulation by these compounds in log phase and confluent cultures support the notion that specific pool depletions rather than general imbalance of pools gives rise to the inhibition of the DNA excision repair process.