Interaction of RecA protein of Escherichia coli with pBR322 DNA modified by N-hydroxy-2-acetylaminofluorene (N-OH-AAF) and 4-hydroxyaminoquinoline 1-oxide (4HAQO) was investigated. RecA protein bound more efficiently to modified DNA than to unmodified DNA as judged by filter-binding and gel electrophoresis assay. The binding of RecA protein with modified DNA resulted in the stimulation of ATPase activity and the activation for RecA protein to stimulate the repressor cleavage. These abilities of RecA protein were increased proportionally to the number of adducts in the plasmid DNA (0-5 adducts). Apurinic and alkylated DNA did not activate RecA protein. We suggest that modification of DNA by N-OH-AAF and 4HAQO provides binding sites for RecA protein and may act as an activation signal for SOS response.