DNA damage causes chromosomal instability leading to oncogenesis, apoptosis, and severe failure of cell functions. The DNA repair system includes base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, mismatch repair, translesion replication, non-homologous end-joining, and recombinational repair. Homologous recombination performs the recombinational repair. The RAD51 gene is an ortholog of Esherichia coli recA, and the gene product Rad51 protein plays a central role in the homologous recombination. In mammals, 7 recA-like genes have been identified: RAD51, RAD51L1/B, RAD51L2/C, RAD51L3/D, XRCC2, XRCC3, and DMC1. These genes, with the exception of meiosis-specific DMC1, are essential for development in mammals. Disruption of the RAD51 gene leads to cell death, whereas RAD51L1/B, RAD51L2/C, RAD51L3/D, XRCC2, and XRCC3 genes (RAD51 paralogs) are not essential for viability of cells, but these gene-deficient cells exhibit a similar defective phenotype. Yeast two-hybrid analysis, co-immunoprecipitation, mutation analysis, and domain mapping of Rad51 and Rad51 paralogs have revealed protein-protein interactions among these gene products. Recent investigations have shown that Rad51 paralogs play a role not only in an early step, but also in a late step of homologous recombination. In addition, identification of alternative transcripts of some RAD51 paralogs may reflect the complexity of the homologous recombination system.