A new efficient in vitro mutagenesis method for the generation of complete random mutant libraries, containing all possible single base substitution mutations in a cloned gene is described. The method is based on controlled use of polymerases. Four populations of DNA molecules are first generated by primer elongation so that they terminate randomly, but always just before a known type of base (before A, C, G or T respectively). Each of the four populations is then mutagenized in a separate misincorporation reaction, where the correct base can now be omitted. The regeneration of wild-type sequences can thus be efficiently avoided. Also, the misincorporating nucleotide concentrations can be optimized to give the three possible single mutations in close to equal ratio. The mutagenesis can be precisely localized within a predetermined target region of any size, and vector sequences remain intact. We have mutagenized the DNA coding for the α-fragment of Escherichia coli β-galactosidase, and identified 176 different base substitution mutations by sequencing. The present method gives mutant yields of 40–60%, when the mutants contain about one amino acid change per protein molecule. All types of base substitution mutations can be generated and deletions are rare. The efficiency of this method permits the use of relatively elaborate screening systems to isolate mutants of either structural genes or regulatory regions.