The ability of DNA polymerases (pols) to catalyze the template-directed synthesis of duplex oligonucleotides containing a nonstandard Watson-Crick base pair between a nucleotide bearing a 5-(2,4-diaminopyrimidine) heterocycle (d kappa) and a nucleotide bearing either deoxyxanthosine (dX) or N1-methyloxoformycin B (pi) has been investigated. The kappa-X and kappa-pi base pairs are jointed by a hydrogen bonding pattern different from and exclusive of those joining the AT and GC base pairs. Reverse transcriptase from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) incorporates dXTP into an oligonucleotide opposite d kappa in a template with good fidelity. With lower efficiency and fidelity, HIV-1 reverse transcriptase also incorporates d kappa TP opposite dX in the template. With d pi in the template, no incorporation of d kappa TP was observed with HIV reverse transcriptase. The Klenow fragment of DNA pol I from Escherichia coli does not incorporate d kappa TP opposite dX in a template but does incorporate dXTP opposite d kappa. Bovine DNA pols alpha, beta, and epsilon accept neither dXTP opposite d kappa nor d kappa TP opposite d pi. DNA pols alpha and epsilon (but not beta) incorporate d kappa TP opposite dX in a template but discontinue elongation after incorporating a single additional base. These results are discussed in light of the crystal structure for pol beta and general considerations of how polymerases must interact with an incoming base pair to faithfully copy genetic information.