Among multiple subspecies of DNA polymerase alpha of calf thymus, only 10 S DNA polymerase alpha had a capacity to initiate DNA synthesis on an unprimed single-stranded, circular M13 phage DNA in the presence of ribonucleoside triphosphates (DNA primase activity). The primase was copurified with 10 S DNA polymerase alpha through the purification and both activities cosedimented at 10 S through gradients of either sucrose or glycerol. Furthermore, these two activities were immunoprecipitated at a similar efficiency by a monoclonal antibody directed against calf thymus DNA polymerase alpha. These results indicate that the primase is tightly bound to 10 S DNA polymerase alpha. The RNA polymerizing activity was resistant to alpha-amanitin, required high concentration of all four ribonucleoside triphosphates (800 microM) for its maximal activity, and produced the limited length of oligonucleotides (around 10 nucleotides long) which were necessary to serve as a primer for DNA synthesis. Covalent bonding to RNA to DNA was strongly suggested by the nearest neighbour frequency analysis and the DNAase treatment. The DNA synthesis primed by the RNA oligomers may be carried out by the associating DNA polymerase alpha because it was strongly inhibited by araCTP, resistant to d2TTP, and was also inhibited by aphidicolin but at relatively high concentration. The primase preferred single-stranded DNA as a template, but it also showed an activity on the double-stranded DNA from calf thymus at an efficiency of approx. 10% of that with single-stranded DNA.