Initiation of meiotic recombination in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs by localized DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) at several locations in the genome, corresponding to hot spots for meiotic gene conversion and crossing over. The meiotic DSBs occur in regions of chromatin that are hypersensitive to nucleases. To gain insight into the molecular mechanism involved in the formation of these DSBs, we have determined their positions at the nucleotide level at the CYS3 hot spot of gene conversion on chromosome I. We found four major new features of these DSBs: (i) sites of DSBs are multiple with varying intensities and spacing within the promoter region of the CYS3 gene; (ii) no consensus sequence can be found at these sites, indicating that the activity involved in DSB formation has little or no sequence specificity; (iii) the breaks are generated by blunt cleavages; and (iv) the 5' ends are modified in rad50S mutant strains, where the processing of these ends is known to be prevented. We present a model for the initiation of meiotic recombination taking into account the implications of these results.