Recombinases derived from microorganisms mediate efficient site-specific recombination. For example, the Cre recombinase from bacteriophage P1 efficiently carries out recombination at its loxP target sites. While this enzyme can function in mammalian cells, the 34bp loxP site is expected to be absent from mammalian genomes. We have discovered that sequences from the human and mouse genomes surprisingly divergent from loxP can support Cre-mediated recombination at up to 100% of the efficiency of the native loxP site in bacterial assays. Transient assays in human cells demonstrate that such pseudo-lox sites also support Cre-mediated integration and excision in the human cell environment. Pseudo sites for Cre and other recombinases may be useful for site-specific insertion of exogenous genes into mammalian genomes during gene therapy and other genetic engineering processes.