We have characterised far-ultraviolet-radiation-induced DNA-repair synthesis in permeabilised arrested (non-dividing) primary human skin fibroblasts. Approximately half the maximum repair synthesis is seen after a UV fluence of 4.0 Jm-2 and little additional incorporation was observed at fluences above 20.0 Jm-2. UV-damaged permeable cells were treated with specific inhibitors of DNA polymerase alpha and beta, both alone and in combination. The degree of inhibition of repair incorporation by aphidicolin indicates that polymerase alpha is involved in the majority (85-90%) of repair synthesis after both high and low (less than 4.0 Jm-2) UV fluences. Dideoxythymidine triphosphate seems able to inhibit DNA-repair synthesis only when polymerase alpha is fully or almost fully functional, indicating that polymerase beta is unable to substitute in repair for an alpha polymerase blocked by aphidicolin. These data suggest that the two enzymes may act sequentially to complete repair patches rather than acting independently.