We have examined the genetic and biochemical consequences of thymidylate stress in haploid and diploid strains of the simple eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Bakers' yeast). Previously we reported that inhibition of dTMP biosynthesis causes "thymineless death" and is highly recombinagenic, but apparently not mutagenic, at the nuclear level; however, it is mutagenic for mitochondria. Concurrent provision of dTMP abolishes these effects. Conversely, excess dTMP is highly mutagenic for nuclear genes. It is likely that DNA strand breaks are responsible for the recombinagenic effects of thymidylate deprivation; such breaks could be produced by reiterative uracil incorporation and excision in DNA repair patches. In our experiments, thymidylate stress was produced both by starving dTMP auxotrophs for the required nucleotide and also by blocking de novo synthesis of thymidylate by various antimetabolites. We found that the antifolate methotrexate is a potent inducer of mitotic recombination (both gene conversion and mitotic crossing-over). This suggests that the gene amplification associated with methotrexate resistance in mammalian cells could arise, in part, by unequal sister-chromatid exchange induced by thymidylate stress. In addition, several sulfa drugs, which impede de novo folate biosynthesis, also have considerable recombinagenic activity.