Protein clamps are ubiquitous and essential components of DNA metabolic machineries, where they serve as mobile platforms that interact with a large variety of proteins. In this report we identify residues that are required for binding of the β-clamp to DNA polymerase III of Escherichia coli, a polymerase of the Pol C family. We show that the α polymerase subunit of DNA polymerase III interacts with the β-clamp via its extreme seven C-terminal residues, some of which are conserved. Moreover, interaction of Pol III with the clamp takes place at the same site as that of the δ-subunit of the clamp loader, providing the basis for a switch between the clamp loading machinery and the polymerase itself. Escherichia coli DNA polymerases I, II, IV and V (UmuC) interact with β at the same site. Given the limited amounts of clamps in the cell, these results suggest that clamp binding may be competitive and regulated, and that the different polymerases may use the same clamp sequentially during replication and repair.