Using an antibody against the phosphorylated form of His2Av (gamma-His2Av), we have described the time course for the series of events leading from the formation of a double-strand break (DSB) to a crossover in Drosophila female meiotic prophase. MEI-P22 is required for DSB formation and localizes to chromosomes prior to gamma-His2Av foci. Drosophila females, however, are among the group of organisms where synaptonemal complex (SC) formation is not dependent on DSBs. In the absence of two SC proteins, C(3)G and C(2)M, the number of DSBs in oocytes is significantly reduced. This is consistent with the appearance of SC protein staining prior to gamma-His2Av foci. However, SC formation is incomplete or absent in the neighboring nurse cells, and gamma-His2Av foci appear with the same kinetics as in oocytes and do not depend on SC proteins. Thus, competence for DSB formation in nurse cells occurs with a specific timing that is independent of the SC, whereas in the oocytes, some SC proteins may have a regulatory role to counteract the effects of a negative regulator of DSB formation. The SC is not sufficient for DSB formation, however, since DSBs were absent from the heterochromatin even though SC formation occurs in these regions. All gamma-His2Av foci disappear before the end of prophase, presumably as repair is completed and crossovers are formed. However, oocytes in early prophase exhibit a slower response to X-ray-induced DSBs compared to those in the late pachytene stage. Assuming all DSBs appear as gamma-His2Av foci, there is at least a 3:1 ratio of noncrossover to crossover products. From a comparison of the frequency of gamma-His2Av foci and crossovers, it appears that Drosophila females have only a weak mechanism to ensure a crossover in the presence of a low number of DSBs.