DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are extremely hazardous lesions for all DNA-bearing organisms and the mechanisms of DSB repair are highly conserved. In the eukaryotic mitotic cell cycle, DSBs are often present following DNA replication while, in meiosis, hundreds of DSBs are generated as a prelude to the reshuffling of the maternally and paternally derived genomes. In both cases, the DSBs are repaired by a process called homologous recombinational repair (HRR), which utilises an intact DNA molecule as the repair template. Mitotic and meiotic HRR are managed by 'checkpoints' that inhibit cell division until DSB repair is complete. Here we attempt to summarise the substantial recent progress in understanding the checkpoint management of HRR in mitosis (focussing mainly on mammals) and then go on to use this information as a framework for understanding the presumed checkpoint management of HRR in mammalian meiosis.