The RAD6 and RAD18 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are required for postreplication repair of discontinuities occurring in newly synthesized DNA following exposure to uv light. In addition, rad6 mutants are highly defective in mutagenesis induced by uv and other DNA damaging agents and in sporulation. RAD6 encodes a protein of 172 amino acids with a highly acidic carboxyl terminus. Deletion of the carboxyl terminal 23 residues, 20 of which are acidic, has little or no effect on uv sensitivity or uv mutagenesis, but sporulation is greatly reduced. Addition of the first four residues of the polyacidic tail restores sporulation to 50% the level observed in RAD+/RAD+ diploids. RAD6 protein has been previously shown to be a ubiquitin-conjugating (E2) enzyme that attaches ubiquitin to histones H2A and H2B in vitro. Our experiments show that deletion of varying lengths of the polyacidic tail of RAD6 protein greatly reduces its ubiquitin-conjugating activity. The RAD18 encoded protein contains features which suggest that it binds DNA and nucleotides. Ten of the 12 cysteine residues occur in regions that could form zinc finger domains for nucleic acid binding. The other interesting feature in RAD18 protein is the presence of a putative nucleotide binding sequence. The possible in vivo functions of the RAD6 and RAD18 proteins are discussed.