Nascent short DNA chains could result from repair of incorporated uracil residues or be intermediates in discontinuous replication. We have characterized short DNA chains having apyrimidinic/apurinic-sites at 5' ends, the expected intermediates of repair, to distinguish them from RNA-linked replication intermediates. We have synthesized model substrates for the repair products; d(pRib[32P]poly(T)) and d(Rib[32P]poly(T)). Alkaline hydrolysis of both substrates has produced [5'-32P]poly(dT). Nascent short DNA was prepared from an Escherichia coli sof (dut) mutant, in this strain fragments from excision repair of uracil residues accumulate. The products of alkaline treatment are hardly digested by spleen exonuclease which selectively degrades 5'-hydroxyl-terminated DNA. These two results show that alkaline hydrolysis of the uracil repair fragments produces 5'-phosphoryl-terminated DNA, whereas it is known that 5'-hydroxyl-terminated DNA is generated from RNA-linked DNA molecules. The two types of nascent fragments thus can be distinguished by the 5'-terminal structure produced by an alkaline hydrolysis.