Bacteriophage ø29 DNA polymerase shares with other DNA-dependent DNA polymerases several regions of amino acid homology along the primary structure. Among them, motif B, characterized by the consensus +x3Kx(6-7)YG (+ being a positively charged amino acid), appears to be specifically conserved in those polymerases that use DNA but not RNA as template. In particular, the lysine residue of this motif is invariant in all members of DNA-dependent polymerases. In this paper we report a mutational analysis of this invariant residue of motif B with the construction and characterization of two mutant proteins in the corresponding residue (Lys383) of ø29 DNA polymerase. Mutant proteins (K383R and K383P) were overexpressed, purified and analyzed under steady-state conditions. In agreement with the modular organization proposed for ø29 DNA polymerase, the exonuclease activity was not affected in either mutant protein. Conversely, mutant K383P showed no detectable capacity to incorporate dNTP substrates using either DNA or TP as primer, although its affinity for DNA was not affected. The conservative substitution of Lys383 by arginine (K383R) resulted in a considerable impairment to use dNTPs, in both processive and non-processive DNA synthesis; the Km for dNTPs being 200-fold higher than that of the wild-type enzyme. Mutant K383R recovered the wild-type polymerase/exonuclease ratio when Mn2+ was used instead of Mg2+ as metal activator, indicating a distorted binding of the [dNTP-metal] chelate at the mutant enzyme active site. The positive charge at residue Lys383 was also critical in the catalysis of deoxynucleotidylation of the terminal protein by ø29 DNA polymerase. The results obtained suggest a direct role for the lysine residue in motif B in forming an evolutionarily conserved DNA templated dNTP binding pocket. Additionally, K383R mutant protein was also affected in the progression from protein-primed initiation to DNA elongation, a switch between two modes of priming that characterizes ø29 DNA replication.