Four human cell lines (one fibroblast, two melanoma and one glioma) were evaluated for their responses to hyperthermia and thermalradiosensitization. For mild hyperthermia (40-42 degrees C), there was little to no chronic thermotolerance development during protracted heating for up to 72 h. In addition, there was no significant thermotolerance for polymerase inactivation during mild hyperthermia. For high temperature hyperthermia, polymerase beta was more thermal sensitive than aphidicolin sensitive polymerase alpha + delta + epsilon, (termed polymerase alpha) but during mild hyperthermia ther relative sensitivities were reversed. Polymerase beta was resistant to mild hyperthermia and polymerase alpha was very sensitive. Within each cell line there was a correlation between polymerase alpha inactivation and the degree of radiosensitization (TER) and amongst the cell lines the most radiation resistant cell line had less polymerase alpha inactivation than the most sensitive cell line for similar values of TER's. These data indicate that, amongst the cell lines, radiosensitivity and polymerase alpha sensitivity may influence TER and that for a given cell line, or possibly tumour, polymerase alpha inactivation may have potential as an indicator to determine TER for mild hyperthermia treatments in radiosensitization to low dose rates.