Physical mapping of wheat chromosomes has revealed small chromosome segments of high gene density and frequent recombination interspersed with relatively large regions of low gene density and infrequent recombination. We constructed a detailed genetic and physical map of one highly recombinant region on the long arm of chromosome 5B. This distally located region accounts for 4% of the physical size of the long arm and at least 30% of the recombination along the entire chromosome. Multiple crossovers occurred within this region, and the degree of recombination is at least 11-fold greater than the genomic average. Characteristics of the region such as gene order and frequency of recombination appear to be conserved throughout the evolution of the Triticeae. The region is more prone to chromosome breakage by gametocidal gene action than gene-poor regions, and evidence for genomic instability was implied by loss of gene collinearity for six loci among the homeologous regions. These data suggest that a unique level of chromatin organization exists within gene-rich recombination hot spots. The many agronomically important genes in this region should be accessible by positional cloning.