The molecular mapping of recombinational breakpoints in the proximal region of the mouse MHC has revealed four hotspots at which breakpoints are clustered. A direct comparison of the nucleotide sequences of two independent hotspots revealed common molecular elements: a consensus sequence of the middle-repetitive MT-family, a repeat of tetramer sequences and a sequence homologous to a solitary LTR of mouse retroviruses. Extremely high frequency of recombination is observed at these hotspots when particular MHC haplotypes are used in genetic crosses. Wild mouse-derived wm7 haplotype instigates recombination at the hotspot located at the 3'-end of the Lmp-2 gene only during female meiosis. Fine genetic analysis demonstrated that the wm7 haplotype carries a genetic factor to instigate recombination and another factor to suppress recombination specifically during male meiosis. In addition, there is no dose effect of the hotspot on frequency of recombination. Finally, we described an attempt to establish an efficient in vitro assay system for monitoring recombination using plasmid DNAs that contain the Lmp-2 hotspot and nuclear extracts prepared from mouse testis.