The time scale for rejoining of radiation-induced deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) single-strand breaks was measured in the presence and absence of oxygen. The involvement of DNA polymerase I in this repair process was studied. Formation and rejoining of DNA strand breaks were measured in λ DNA infecting lysogenic pol+ and polA1 strains of Escherichia coli irradiated by 4 MeV electrons under identical conditions. Irradiation and transfer to alkaline detergent could be completed in less than 180 ms. The initial yields of DNA strand breaks were identical in pol+ and polA1 host cells and four- to fivefold higher in the presence of oxygen than in nitrogen anoxia. Evidence for the existence of a very fast repair process, independent of DNA polymerase I, was not found, since no rejoining of radiation-induced DNA strand breaks was observed during incubation from 45 ms to 3 s. In pol+ host cells most of the strand breaks produced in the presence of oxygen were rejoined within the first 30 to 40 s of incubation, whereas no rejoining could be detected within the same period of time in anoxic cells. Since no rejoining of broken λ DNA molecules was observed in polA1 host cells, it is concluded that the synthetase activity of DNA polymerase I is involved in the rejoining of DNA breaks induced by radiation in the presence of oxygen.