Specific, end-labeled DNA fragments can be simply and rapidly prepared using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Such fragments are suitable for use in DNase I protection footprint assays, chemical sequencing reactions, and for the production and analysis of paused RNA polymerase transcription complexes. Moreover, a general means of introducing a specific mutation at any position along the length of such PCR-generated fragments is described. These procedures, which can circumvent the need for large-scale phage or plasmid growths, preparative gel-electrophoresis and the screening of molecular clones, can facilitate the rapid study of sequence-specffic interactions of proteins and DNA. A rapid means of removing excess oligonucleotide primers from completed PCRs is also described.