Theories of the origin of optical asymmetry in living systems place fundamental importance on the amplification of optical asymmetry by an autocatalytic process. The replication of a polynucleotide is one obvious choice for such an autocatalytic growth mechanism. If an optically homogeneous polynucleotide could replicate by directing the polymerization of monomers of the same handedness, while excluding monomers of the opposite handedness, its chiral descendants would come to dominate what was once an achiral environment. Recently, two highly efficient template-directed reaction systems have been developed for the oligomerization of activated guanosine mononucleotides (Fig. 1) on a poly(C) template. The synthesis of L-guanosine 5'-mononucleotide makes it possible to study chiral selection in these systems. We report here that poly(C)-directed oligomerization of activated guanosine mononucleotides proceeds readily if the monomers are of the same optical handedness as the template, and is indeed far less efficient if the monomers are of the opposite handedness. However, in template-directed reactions with a racemic mixture, monomers of the opposite handedness to the template are incorporated as chain terminators at the 2'(3') end of the products. This inhibition raises an important problem for many theories of the origin of life.