Crossovers mediate the accurate segregation of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. The widely conserved pch2 gene of Drosophila melanogaster is required for a pachytene checkpoint that delays prophase progression when genes necessary for DSB repair and crossover formation are defective. However, the underlying process that the pachytene checkpoint is monitoring remains unclear. Here we have investigated the relationship between chromosome structure and the pachytene checkpoint and show that disruptions in chromosome axis formation, caused by mutations in axis components or chromosome rearrangements, trigger a pch2-dependent delay. Accordingly, the global increase in crossovers caused by chromosome rearrangements, known as the "interchromosomal effect of crossing over," is also dependent on pch2. Checkpoint-mediated effects require the histone deacetylase Sir2, revealing a conserved functional connection between PCH2 and Sir2 in monitoring meiotic events from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to a metazoan. These findings suggest a model in which the pachytene checkpoint monitors the structure of chromosome axes and may function to promote an optimal number of crossovers.