Stanley Sawyer's gene conversion detection method, implemented in his GENECONV computer program, was used to detect and characterize the gene conversions between the multigene family members of the yeast genome. This method gave different gene conversion frequencies and size distribution for gene families with two members and multigene families with more than two members. The 69 gene conversions detected in multigene families with more than two members occur at a frequency of 7.8% gene conversion/pair of genes compared and have an average size of 173+/-220 nucleotides. Larger gene conversions are found only between more similar genes, the genes involved in gene conversions are distributed almost randomly among the 16 yeast chromosomes, and the frequency of gene conversions increases as the distance between repeated genes decreases. In contrast to previous studies, no relationship was observed between the level of expression of a gene and its involvement in gene conversions. These analyses also suggest that gene conversions might occur by different mechanisms in closely linked genes and unlinked genes. The excess of converted regions at the 3? end of unlinked genes suggests that recombination with incomplete cDNA molecules is the main mechanism responsible for gene conversions between such genes.