An intrachromosomal recombination assay that monitors events between alleles of the ade2 gene oriented as inverted repeats was developed. Recombination to adenine prototrophy occurred at a rate of 9.3 x 10(-5)/cell/generation. Of the total recombinants, 50% occurred by gene conversion without crossing over, 35% by crossover and 15% by crossover associated with conversion. The rate of recombination was reduced 3,000-fold in a rad52 mutant, but the distribution of residual recombination events remained similar to that seen in the wild type strain. In rad51 mutants the rate of recombination was reduced only 4-fold. In this case, gene conversion events unassociated with a crossover were reduced 18-fold, whereas crossover events were reduced only 2.5-fold. A rad51 rad52 double mutant strain showed the same reduction in the rate of recombination as the rad52 mutant, but the distribution of events resembled that seen in rad51. From these observations it is concluded that (i) RAD52 is required for high levels of both gene conversions and reciprocal crossovers, (ii) that RAD51 is not required for intrachromosomal crossovers, and (iii) that RAD51 and RAD52 have different functions, or that RAD52 has functions in addition to those of the Rad51/Rad52 protein complex.