The MRE4 gene was cloned by complementation of the defects of meiotic recombination and haploidization in an mre4-1 mutant. Disruption of MRE4 resulted in reduced meiotic recombination and spore inviability. The mre4 spore lethality can be suppressed by spo13, a mutation that causes cells to bypass the reductional division. Analysis of meiotic DNA extracted from the mre4 mutant cells revealed that double-strand breaks occurred at the two sites of the HIS4-LEU2 recombination hot spot, but at a frequency of about 10-20% of the wild type. Northern blot analysis indicated that the MRE4 gene produces four transcripts of 1.63, 3.2, 4.0 and 6.2 kb. All of these transcripts are absent from mitotic cells and are meiotically induced. The DNA sequence of the MRE4 open reading frame predicts a 497-amino acids protein with a molecular mass of 56.8 kDa. The Mre4 protein contains highly conserved amino acid sequences found specifically in serine-threonine protein kinases. These results suggest that protein phosphorylation is required directly or indirectly for meiotic recombination.