A 25mer oligonucleotide containing a single N-(deoxyguanosin-8-yl-)-1-aminopyrene (dGAP), the major DNA adduct formed by reductively activated 1-nitropyrene, was synthesized. The adduct was located at nucleotide 21 from the 3' end. DNA synthesis on this template by human DNA polymerases alpha and beta, HIV reverse transcriptase, Sequenase (version 2.0) and Klenow fragment of DNA polymerase I was strongly blocked at the nucleotide 3' to the adduct site. Only when a 3'-->5' exonuclease-deficient Klenow fragment was used was incorporation of a nucleotide opposite the adduct observed. Nevertheless, extension beyond the adduct site did not occur to a significant extent. Only a relatively small proportion of full-length product (< 5%) was detected. In the presence of Mn2+, the efficiency of bypass with this polymerase increased. When a 20mer primer was elongated in the presence of only one nucleotide triphosphate, deoxycytidylic acid was preferentially incorporated opposite the adduct. Deoxycytidine opposite the adduct was also preferred when a set of 21mer primers (containing each of the four nucleotides opposite dGAP) were elongated to a full-length product in the presence of all four deoxynucleotide triphosphates. In order to confirm these results, extension of a 15mer primer was carried out with all four deoxynucleotide triphosphates and the products were isolated. Maxam--Gilbert sequencing of each elongation product showed that primer extension occurred in an error-free manner. We conclude that dGAP is a strong block of DNA replication. However, when translesion synthesis occurs, it is largely accurate.