We have constructed a linear yeast plasmid by joining fragments from the termini of Tetrahymena ribosomal DNA to a yeast vector. Structural features of the terminus region of the Tetrahymena rDNA plasmid maintained in the yeast linear plasmid include a set of specifically placed single-strand interruptions within the cluster of hexanucleotide (C4A2) repeat units. An artificially constructed hairpin terminus was unable to stabilize a linear plasmid in yeast. The fact that yeast can recognize and use DNA ends from the distantly related organism Tetrahymena suggests that the structural features required for telomere replication and resolution have been highly conserved in evolution. The linear plasmid was used as a vector to clone chromosomal telomeres from yeast. One Tetrahymena end was removed by restriction digestion, and yeast fragments that could function as an end on a linear plasmid were selected. Restriction mapping and hybridization analysis demonstrated that these fragments were yeast telomeres, and suggested that all yeast chromosomes might have a common telomere sequence. Yeast telomeres appear to be similar in structure to the rDNA of Tetrahymena, in which specific nicks or gaps are present within a simple repeated sequence near the terminus of the DNA.