Two Mg(2+)-dependent DNA endonucleases have been isolated from mammalian cells which have a strong preference to nick within long tracts of guanine residues in vitro. One endonuclease activity is mitochondrial (mt). The other endonuclease, called Endonuclease G, is associated with isolated nuclei, and is released when the nuclear chromatin is exposed to moderate ionic strength. Our laboratory has previously purified the mt endonuclease to near homogeneity from mitochondria of bovine heart and reported the enzyme to be a homodimer of a approximately 29 kDa polypeptide [Cummings, O. W. et al. (1987) J. Biol. Chem., 262, 2005-2015]. Although the purified mt endonuclease will extensively fragment M13 viral ssDNA and plasmid dsDNAs in vitro, the enzyme displays an unusually strong preference to nick within a (dG)12:(dC)12 sequence tract which resides just upstream from the origin of DNA replication in the mitochondrial genome. The nuclear Endonuclease G first identified from its selective targeting of several (dG)n:(dC)n tracts in vitro (where N = 3-29), was subsequently purified from calf thymus nuclei and shown to be a homodimer of a approximately 26-kDa polypeptide [Côté, J. et al. (1989) J. Biol. Chem., 264, 3301-3310]. In the present study, we find that Endonuclease G partially purified from calf thymus nuclei will extensively degrade both viral ss- and dsDNAs in vitro, and that the enzyme possesses biochemical properties and specificity for nucleotide sequences in DNA that are strongly related or identical to those of the mt endonuclease. These findings and the discovery of sequence identity between the proteins strengthen the conclusion that the nuclear Endonuclease G is the same enzyme as the mt endonuclease.