The specificity and DNA yield of PCRs are often improved by the "hot start" technique and analogous methods. The intent of the approach is to eliminate or prevent the generation of nonspecific PCR templates that may be synthesized at ambient temperature prior to thermal cycling. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) raised in mice to the purified DNA polymerase of Thermus aquaticus (Taq) were selected for their ability to reversibly block polymerase activity. The MAbs, incubated with Taq DNA polymerase and added to PCR tubes at ambient temperature, yield specific DNA fragments upon amplification when using high numbers of temperature cycles and a very low copy number of target DNA in a complex DNA background. This approach, using the TaqStart Antibody, permits the preparation of reaction mixtures at ambient temperatures without the subsequent opening of reaction tubes, use of grease or waxes, or of degradative enzymes and deoxyribonucleotide analogs.