Chromosomal double-strand DNA breaks must be repaired; in the absence of repair the resulting acentromeric (and telomereless) fragments may be lost and/or the broken DNA ends may recombine causing general chromosomal instability. The Rad50/Mre11/Xrs2 protein complex acts at DNA ends and is implicated in both homologous and non-homologous recombination. We have isolated a rad50 mutant of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana and show here that it has a somatic hyper-recombination phenotype in planta. This finding supports the hypothesis of a competition between homologous and illegitimate recombination in higher eukaryotes. To our knowledge, this is the first direct in vivo support for the role of this complex in chromosomal recombination in a multicellular organism and the first description of a mutation of a known gene leading to hyper-recombination in plants.