Little is known about the functions of DNA polymerase λ (Pol λ) recently identified in mammals. From the genomic sequence information of rice and Arabidopsis, we found that Pol λ may be the only member of the X-family in higher plants. We have succeeded in isolating the cDNA and recombinant protein of Pol λ in a higher plant, rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. Nipponbare) (OsPol λ). OsPol λ had activities of DNA polymerase, terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase and deoxyribose phosphate lyase, a marker enzyme for base excision repair. It also interacted with rice proliferating cell nuclear antigen (OsPCNA) in a pull-down assay. OsPCNA increased the processivity of OsPol λ. Northern blot analysis showed that the level of OsPol λ expression correlated with cell proliferation in meristematic and meiotic tissues, and was induced by DNA-damaging treatments. These properties suggest that plant Pol λ is a DNA repair enzyme which functions in plant meristematic and meiotic tissues, and that it can substitute for Pol β and terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase.