Cells respond to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and uncapped telomeres by recruiting checkpoint and repair factors to the site of lesions. Single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) is an important intermediate in the repair of DSBs and is produced also at uncapped telomeres. Here, we provide evidence that binding of the checkpoint protein Rad9, through its Tudor domain, to methylated histone H3-K79 inhibits resection at DSBs and uncapped telomeres. Loss of DOT1 or mutations in RAD9 influence a Rad50-dependent nuclease, leading to more rapid accumulation of ssDNA, and faster activation of the critical checkpoint kinase, Mec1. Moreover, deletion of RAD9 or DOT1 partially bypasses the requirement for CDK1 in DSB resection. Interestingly, Dot1 contributes to checkpoint activation in response to low levels of telomere uncapping but is not essential with high levels of uncapping. We suggest that both Rad9 and histone H3 methylation allow transmission of the damage signal to checkpoint kinases, and keep resection of damaged DNA under control influencing, both positively and negatively, checkpoint cascades and contributing to a tightly controlled response to DNA damage.