Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is required for somatic hypermutation and immunoglobulin class switching in activated B cells. Because AID has no known target-site specificity, there have been efforts to identify non-immunoglobulin AID targets. We show here that AID acts promiscuously, generating widespread DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), genomic instability and cytotoxicity in B cells with less homologous recombination ability. We demonstrate that the homologous-recombination factor XRCC2 suppressed AID-induced off-target DSBs, promoting B cell survival. Finally, we suggest that aberrations that affect human chromosome 7q36, including XRCC2, correlate with genomic instability in B cell cancers. Our findings demonstrate that AID has promiscuous genomic DSB-inducing activity, identify homologous recombination as a safeguard against off-target AID action, and have implications for genomic instability in B cell cancers.