Model single base extension (SBE) genotyping reactions with individual deoxy-, dideoxy- and acyclonucleoside triphosphates are monitored by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Three non-proofreading DNA polymerases display remarkably high misincorporation (up to 64% of correct incorporation) when extending primers with single substrates at saturating concentrations. Introduction of one phosphorothioate (PS) linkage into the primer 3′ terminus reduces misincorporation by these enzymes an average 1.4-fold (range 0- to 3.5-fold) versus correct incorporation. Combined use of 3′-PS primers with strongly proofreading DNA polymerases yields order of magnitude improvements in SBE fidelity over those produced by the equivalent non-proofreading enzymes. Errors are reduced to below MALDI-TOF detectable levels in almost all cases. The Sp diastereomer of the 3′-PS primer, which can be prepared in situ by incubation with proofreading polymerase, is stable to 3′-exonuclease activity over periods longer than 16 h. Products of correct extension by T7 DNAP are retained over 30–60 min during idling turnover at a dNTP concentration of 2.5 µM, indicating that the assay can be applied over a broad range of substrate concentrations. These results suggest that the use of PS primers and proofreading polymerases will offer a simple and cost-effective means to improve fidelity in a range of single-substrate SBE assay formats.