The triphosphates of acyclovir (ACV), 1-(2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro-beta-D-arabinofuranosyl)-5-iodocytosine (FIAC) and E-5-(2-bromovinyl)-2'-deoxyuridine (BVdU) have been examined for their inhibitory effects on the endogenous DNA polymerase reactions of human hepatitis B virus (HBV) and woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV). All three triphosphates (ACVTP, FIACTP and BVdUTP) inhibited the HBV and WHV DNA polymerases by competing with the corresponding natural substrates. FIACTP was the most potent inhibitor of HBV and WHV DNA polymerase while ACVTP was the least effective inhibitor. The inhibitory properties of these compounds were compared with those of the 5'-triphosphates of 1-beta-arabinofuranosyl-cytosine (ara-CTP) and 1-beta-arabinofuranosylthymine (ara-TTP). The 50% inhibitory doses for HBV and WHV DNA polymerases were in the following order: FIACTP less than BVdUTP less than ara-TTP less than ACVTP less than ara-CTP. BVdUTP appeared to be an efficient alternate substrate to dTTP for HBV DNA polymerase while FIACTP was much less efficient when substituted for dCTP. ACVTP did not act as an alternate substrate to dGTP and appeared to prevent DNA chain elongation.