The effect of the cellular level of RecA protein on the ability of E. coli K12 bacteria to (i) survive UV-irradiation (ii) promote UV-reactivation of UV-damaged phage lambda (iii) induce prophage lambda was determined in bacterial mutants with discrete increasing levels of RecA protein. The various levels of RecA protein were obtained by combining lexA and recA alleles. Except for the double mutant lexA3 recAo98, whose repair ability was 25% less than that observed in wild type bacteria, bacterial survival was proportional to the level of RecA protein measured after 90 min of incubation. In lexA3 recAo98 bacteria, RecA protein, at a constitutive high basal level, failed to compensate totally for the lack of LexA repressor cleavage; UV-reactivation of UV-damaged phage lambda was not restored; yet, prophage lambda was induced with 35% efficiency. Efficient UV-induction of prophage lambda is linked to the induction of lexA-controlled host processes that repair the UV-damaged prophage.