DNA polymerase η (pol η) plays a critical role in suppressing mutations caused by the bypass of cis-syn cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) that escape repair. There is evidence this is also the case for the oxidative lesion 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-guanine (8-oxoG). Both of these lesions cause moderate to severe blockage of synthesis when encountered by replicative polymerases, while pol η displays little no to pausing during translesion synthesis. However, since lesion bypass does not remove damaged DNA from the genome and can possibly be accompanied by errors in synthesis during bypass, the process is often called 'damage tolerance' to delineate it from classical DNA repair pathways. The fidelity of lesion bypass is therefore of importance when determining how pol η suppresses mutations after DNA damage. As pol η has been implicated in numerous in vivo pathways other than lesion bypass, we wanted to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the relatively low-fidelity synthesis displayed by pol η. To that end, we have created a set of mutant pol η proteins each containing a single amino acid substitution in the active site and closely surrounding regions. We determined overall DNA synthesis ability as well as the efficiency and fidelity of bypass of thymine-thymine CPD (T-T CPD) and 8-oxoG containing DNA templates. Our results show that several amino acids are critical for normal polymerase function, with changes in overall activity and fidelity being observed. Of the mutants that retain polymerase activity, we demonstrate that amino acids Q38, Y52, and R61 play key roles in determining polymerase fidelity, with substation of alanine causing both increases and decreases in fidelity. Remarkably, the Q38A mutant displays increased fidelity during synthesis opposite 8-oxoG but decreased fidelity during synthesis opposite a T-T CPD.