An analysis of the accuracy of protein and DNA synthesis in human lymphocytes with respect to aging has been carried out. The response of human peripheral lymphocytes, from young and old adults, to phytohemagglutinin was measured at varying temperatures. This should provide a sensitive test for the accumulation of altered thermolabile proteins that are rate limiting in the response to phytohemagglutinin. At 37 degrees C the rate of thymidine incorporation as well as the induction of DNA polymerase in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocytes from old and young adults were similar. Also at elevated temperatures, the thermosensitivity of DNA replication in lymphocytes from young and old adults was the same. DNA polymerase was purified from PHA-stimulated lymphocytes from young and old adults. The fidelity of DNA synthesis using poly (dC) as a template was similar with both enzymes. However, DNA polymerase-alpha purified from old adults was thermolabile compared to the enzyme from young adults. Thus, while the lymphocytes from old individuals may have heat labile proteins, they do not limit their proliferative capacity.