The functional consequences of DNA condensation are investigated. The recognition of complementary strands is profoundly modified by this critical phenomenon. (1) Condensation of denatured DNA greatly accelerates the kinetics of DNA renaturation. We propose a unifying explanation for the effects of several accelerating solvents studied here including polymers, di- and multivalent cations, as well as effects seen with the phenol emulsions and single-stranded nucleic acid binding proteins. Optimal conditions for renaturation at or above the calculated three dimensional diffusion limit are theoretically consistent with a limited search space in the condensed phases. (2) In addition to these effects on association of two single strands, similar condensation acceleration effects can be seen in strand exchange experiments with double stranded DNA without proteins. These may model a mechanism of recombinational protein function.