Acridine-induced frameshift mutagenesis in bacteriophage T4 has been shown to be dependent on T4 topoisomerase. In the absence of a functional T4 topoisomerase, in vivo acridine-induced mutagenesis is reduced to background levels. Further, the in vivo sites of acridine-induced deletions and duplications correlate precisely with in vitro sites of acridine-induced T4 topoisomerase cleavage. These correlations suggest that acridine-induced discontinuities introduced by topoisomerase could be processed into frameshift mutations. The induced mutations at these sites have a specific arrangement about the cleavage site. Deletions occur adjacent to the 3' end and duplications occur adjacent to the 5' end of the cleaved bond. It was proposed that at the nick, deletions could be produced by the 3'-->5' removal of bases by DNA polymerase-associated exonuclease and duplications could be produced by the 5'-->3' templated addition of bases. We have tested in vivo for T4 DNA polymerase involvement in nick processing, using T4 phage having DNA polymerases with altered ratios of exonuclease to polymerase activities. We predicted that the ratios of the deletion to duplication mutations induced by acridines in these polymerase mutant strains would reflect the altered exonuclease/polymerase ratios of the mutant T4 DNA polymerases. The results support this prediction, confirming that the two activities of the T4 DNA polymerase contribute to mutagenesis. The experiments show that the influence of T4 DNA polymerase in acridine-induced mutation specificities is due to its processing of acridine-induced 3'-hydroxyl ends to generate deletions and duplications by a mechanism that does not involve DNA slippage.