Replication of simian virus 40 (SV40) chromatin in vitro is inhibited by chloride but stimulated by acetate anions even at physiological concentrations of 100-200 mM. In a similar fashion DNA polymerase alpha is affected with respect to the activity with activated DNA as primer template. Furthermore, at concentrations of 100-200 mM acetate DNA polymerase alpha remains associated with replicating chromatin, whereas association is strongly reduced when chloride anions are used at the corresponding concentrations. Thus the salt behaviour of DNA polymerase alpha explains the salt sensitivity of the replication system. Our results confirm the importance of this enzyme for DNA replication.