In order to analyse the relationships between regulation of apoptosis and homologous recombination (HR), we overexpressed proapoptotic Bax or only-BH3 Bid proteins or antiapoptotic Bcl-2 or Bcl-XL, in hamster CHO cells or in SV40-transformed human fibroblasts. We measured HR induced by gamma-rays, UVC or a specific double-strand cleavage targeted in the recombination substrate by the meganuclease I-SceI. We show here that the induction of both recombinant cells and recombinant colonies was impaired when expressing Bcl-2 family members, in hamster as well as in human cells. Moreover, the pro- as well as antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members inhibited HR, independently of degradation of the RAD51 recombination protein and of their impact on apoptosis. These data reveal a mechanism of HR downregulation by potentially proapoptotic proteins, distinct from and parallel to degradation of recombination proteins, a situation that should also optimize the efficiency of programmed cell death.