Molecular evidence for intrachromosomal recombination between closely linked DNA repeats within the plant genome is presented. The non-overlapping complementary deletion derivatives of the selectable neomycin phosphotransferase gene (nptII), when intact conferring kanamycin resistance, were inserted into the genome of Nicotiana tabacum. The functional marker gene was restored with frequencies between 10(-4) and 10(-6) per proliferating cell clone. Prolonged tissue culture prior to kanamycin selection did not increase the number of recombinant kanamycin-resistant (KanR) cell clones. DNA analysis of KanR clones derived from cells carrying multiple tandem recombination units suggested that these units have a tendency to undergo concerted recombination. Recovery and analysis of kanamycin-sensitive seedlings with patches of KanR cells provided direct evidence for mitotic recombination in plant tissue.