The tumor suppressor p53 is considered as the guardian of the genome which is activated following genotoxic stress. In many cell types, p53 mediates G1 cell cycle arrest as the predominant cellular response. Inactivation of wild-type p53 leads to loss of G1/S checkpoint control and to genomic instability, including increased spontaneous homologous recombination (HR). To determine whether regulation of the G1/S checkpoint is required for suppression of HR, we assessed recombination events using a plasmid substrate that stably integrated into the genome of p53-null mouse fibroblasts. Exogenous expression of a temperature-sensitive p53 protein (Ala135 to Val), which had lost trans-activation function and could not regulate G1/S transition when in mutant conformation, reduced HR rates to the same extent as wild-type p53. Furthermore, a p53 construct with an alternatively-spliced carboxy terminus also retained this ability in the absence of both activities, G1/S control and non-sequence specific DNA binding as mediated by the carboxy terminus. Our data dissociate regulation of HR by p53 from its role as a cell cycle checkpoint protein. The results support a model which extends p53's role as a guardian of the genome to include transactivation-independent regulatory functions in DNA repair, replication and recombination.