Small patch repair in ultraviolet-irradiated Escherichia coli was saturated at deoxynucleoside triphosphate concentrations (approximately 2..mu..M of each dNTP) that are severly limiting for DNA replication. The low requirement of the repair process for dNTPs permitted direct demonstration of u.v.-induced DNA synthesis by incorporation of labelled dNTP and determination of its extent, base composition and patch size. It is concluded that DNA polymerase 1 is involved in small patch repair and that an average of 13 to 16 nucleotides are re-inserted per pyrimidine dimer excised. The average base composition of the repaired stretches adjacent to the dimers is similar to that of total E.coli DNA. An assay utilizing endogenous u.v.-specific endonuclease to determine dimer excision is described.