Preparations of DNA polymerase alpha from early embryos of Drosophila melanogaster catalyze the ATP-dependent synthesis of DNA with single-stranded M13 DNA or poly(dT) templates. In the case of M13 DNA, GTP, but not UTP or CTP, can replace ATP. The reaction is completely dependent on added template and is not inhibited by alpha-amanitin. Alkaline hydrolysis of the product synthesized in the presence of [alpha-32P]dATP and poly(dT) generates 32P-labeled 3'(2') adenylate, showing that a covalent ribo-deoxynucleotide linkage is formed. Furthermore, incorporation of ribonucleotides occurs at the 5' end of the newly synthesized polynucleotide chain. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a ribo-oligonucleotide primer is synthesized by primase action and subsequently elongated by DNA polymerase. Under the appropriate conditions, DNA polymerase I from Escherichia coli can elongate primers formed by primase in the presence of ATP and poly(dT). Primase activity copurifies with DNA polymerase alpha and may be part of the multisubunit polymerase molecule.