Xeroderma pigmentosum group C (XPC) protein plays a key role in DNA damage recognition in global genome nucleotide excision repair (NER). The protein forms in vivo a heterotrimeric complex involving one of the two human homologs of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad23p and centrin 2, a centrosomal protein. Because centrin 2 is dispensable for the cell-free NER reaction, its role in NER has been unclear. Binding experiments with a series of truncated XPC proteins allowed the centrin 2 binding domain to be mapped to a presumed alpha-helical region near the C terminus, and three amino acid substitutions in this domain abrogated interaction with centrin 2. Human cell lines stably expressing the mutant XPC protein exhibited a significant reduction in global genome NER activity. Furthermore, centrin 2 enhanced the cell-free NER dual incision and damaged DNA binding activities of XPC, which likely require physical interaction between XPC and centrin 2. These results reveal a novel vital function for centrin 2 in NER, the potentiation of damage recognition by XPC.