RAD51 and other members of the RecA family of strand exchange proteins assemble on ssDNA to form presynaptic filaments, which carry out the central steps of homologous recombination. A microplate-based assay was developed for high-throughput measurement of hRAD51 filament formation on ssDNA. With this method, a 10,000 compound library was screened, leading to the identification of a small molecule (RS-1) that enhances hRAD51 binding in a wide range of biochemical conditions. Salt titration experiments showed that RS-1 can enhance filament stability. Ultrastructural analysis of filaments formed on ssDNA showed that RS-1 can increase both protein-DNA complex lengths and the pitch of helical filament turns. RS-1 stimulated hRAD51-mediated homologous strand assimilation (D-loop) activity by at least 5- to 11-fold, depending on the condition. This D-loop stimulation occurred even in the presence of Ca(2+) or adenylyl-imidodiphosphate, indicating that the mechanism of stimulation was distinct from that conferred by Ca(2+) and/or inhibition of ATPase. No D-loop activity was observed in the absence of a nucleotide triphosphate cofactor, indicating that the compound does not substitute for this requirement. These results indicate that RS-1 enhances the homologous recombination activity of hRAD51 by promoting the formation of active presynaptic filaments. Cell survival assays in normal neonatal human dermal fibroblasts demonstrated that RS-1 promotes a dose-dependent resistance to the cross-linking chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin. Given that RAD51-dependent recombination is a major determinant of cisplatin resistance, RS-1 seems to function in vivo to stimulate homologous recombination repair proficiency. RS-1 has many potential applications in both research and medical settings.