Replicated DNA molecules are physically connected by cohesin complexes from the time of their synthesis in S-phase until they are segregated during anaphase of the subsequent mitosis or meiosis. This sister chromatid cohesion is essential for the biorientation of chromosomes on the mitotic or meiotic spindle. In addition, cohesion is also essential during G2-phase of the cell cycle to allow repair of DNA double-strand breaks by homologous recombination. Although cohesion can normally only be established during S-phase, recent work in yeast has shown that DNA double-strand breaks induce the recruitment of cohesin to the damage site and lead to the de novo formation of cohesion at this site. It is unknown if similar mechanisms operate in higher eukaryotes, but in mammalian cells phosphorylation of the cohesin subunit Smc1 by the protein kinase Atm has been shown to be important for DNA repair. We discuss how cohesin and sister chromatid cohesion might facilitate the repair of damaged DNA.