Single-stranded DNA binding protein is a key component in growth of bacteriophage T7. In addition, DNA synthesis by the purified in vitro replication system is markedly stimulated when the DNA template is coated with Escherichia coli single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB). In an attempt to understand the mechanism for this stimulation, we have studied the effect of E. coli SSB on DNA synthesis by the T7 DNA polymerase using a primed single-stranded M13 DNA template which serves as a model for T7 lagging strand DNA synthesis. Polyacrylamide gel analysis of the DNA product synthesized on this template in the absence of SSB indicated that the T7 DNA polymerase pauses at many specific sites, some stronger than others. By comparing the position of pausing with the DNA sequence of this region and by using a DNA template that contains an extremely stable hairpin structure, it was found that many, but not all, of these pause positions correspond to regions of potential secondary structure. The presence of SSB during synthesis resulted in a large reduction in the frequency of hesitations at many sites that correspond to these secondary structures. However, the facts that a large percentage of the pause sites remain unaffected even at saturating levels of SSB and that SSB stimulates synthesis on a singly primed poly(dA) template suggested that other mechanisms also contribute to the stimulation of DNA synthesis caused by SSB. Using a sucrose gradient analysis, we found that SSB increases the affinity of the polymerase for single-stranded DNA that this increased binding is only noticed when the polymerase concentration is limiting. The effect of this difference in polymerase affinity was clearly observed by a polyacrylamide gel analysis of the product DNA synthesized during a limited DNA synthesis reaction using conditions where only two nucleotides are added to the primer. Under these circumstances, where the presence of hairpin structures should not contribute to the stimulatory effect of SSB, we found that the extension of the primer is stimulated 4-fold if the DNA template is coated with SSB. Furthermore, SSB had no effect on this synthesis at large polymerase to template ratios.