In order to study the sequence specificity of double-strand DNA cleavage by Drosophila topoisomerase II, we have mapped and sequenced 16 strong and 47 weak cleavage sites in the recombinant plasmid p pi 25.1. Analysis of the nucleotide and dinucleotide frequencies in the region near the site of phosphodiester bond breakage revealed a nonrandom distribution. The nucleotide frequencies observed would occur by chance with a probability less than 0.05. The consensus sequence we derived is 5'GT.A/TAY decrease ATT.AT..G 3', where a dot means no preferred nucleotide, Y is for pyrimidine, and the arrow shows the point of bond cleavage. On average, strong sites match the consensus better than weak sites.