One of the authors (AJC) acknowledges with gratitude the important role Fernando Bastarrachea played in the author's discovery that E. coli could carry out homologous genetic recombination by multiple pathways. This in turn led to the discovery of several genes, including recF, recO, and recR, whose role in recombination would not otherwise have been detected. Subsequent genetic and biochemical studies have led to a general formulation in which there are multiple nucleolytic ways to achieve a presynaptic intermediate bound to RecA protein. Postsynaptic events in the general formulation occur by means of multiple branch migration enzymes to form Holliday DNA structures and a specific nuclease to cleave them. The general formulation is built on synapsis catalyzed by RecA protein. A second RecA-independent synapsis catalyzed by RecT (and RecE?) protein is now under study and a third type independent of both RecA and RecT has apparently been discovered. How these will affect the general formulation remains to be seen. Some proteins, most prominently RecF, RecO, and RecR, have no role in the general formulation. The hypothesis is presented that these proteins act as a switch between replication and recombination by helping to convert replication to recombination intermediates. Universality of the general formulation is supported by the widespread occurrence of recA, recB, recC, and recD genes among bacteria. Recent discovery of recA-like genes in several eukaryotes further supports its universality. We have contributed additional support by sequencing a recA-like gene from an archaeal species, thus making it plausible that the mechanism of synapsis worked out for E. coli RecA protein will hold for all three organismal domains. The boundaries of the puzzle of homologous genetic recombination therefore seem complete and the pieces to the complex picture they encompass are falling into place.