The ability of HeLa DNA polymerases to carry out DNA synthesis from incisions made by various endodeoxyribonucleases which recognize or form baseless sites in DNA was examined. DNA polymerase beta carried out limited strand displacement synthesis from 3'-hydroxyl nucleotide termini made by HeLa apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) endonuclease II at the 5'-side of apurinic sites. Escherichia coli endonuclease III incises at the 3'-side of apurinic sites to produce nicks with 3'-deoxyribose termini which did not efficiently support DNA synthesis with beta-polymerase. However, these nicks could be activated to support limited DNA synthesis by HeLa AP endonuclease II, an enzyme which removes the baseless sugar phosphate from the 3'-termini, thus creating a one-nucleotide gap. With dGTP as the only nucleoside triphosphate present, the beta-polymerase catalyzed one-nucleotide DNA repair synthesis from those gaps which lacked dGMP. In contrast, HeLa DNA polymerase alpha was unreactive with all of the above incised DNA substrates. Larger patches of DNA synthesis were produced by nick translation from one-nucleotide gaps with HeLa DNA polymerase beta and HeLa DNase V. Moreover, incisions made by E. coli endonuclease III were activated to support DNA synthesis by the DNase V which removed the 3'-deoxyribose termini. HeLa DNase V also stimulated both the rate and extent of DNA synthesis by DNA polymerase beta from AP endonuclease II incisions. In this case the baseless sugar phosphate was removed from the 5'-termini, and nick translational synthesis occurred. Complete DNA excision repair of pyrimidine dimers was achieved with the beta-polymerase, DNase V, and DNA ligase from incisions made in UV-irradiated DNA by T4 UV endonuclease and HeLa AP endonuclease II. Such incisions produce a one-nucleotide gap containing 3'-hydroxyl nucleotide and 5'-thymine: thymidylate cyclobutane dimer termini. DNase V removes pyrimidine dimers primarily as a dinucleotide and then promotes nick translational DNA synthesis.