Mitochondrial DNA recombination was reduced in an yeast mutant lacking the NUC1 endo/exonuclease. Between linked markers in either the omega or cob region the frequency of recombination decreased nearly 50% compared to wild-type. Gene conversion frequencies in the var1 gene and in the omega region were also lower in the mutant strain. In particular, the gradient of gene conversion at omega was most affected by the absence of the NUC1 nuclease. In crosses between nuclease-deficient and wild-type strains, gene conversion frequencies at omega were reduced only when the omega+ allele was contributed to the zygote by the nuclease-deficient parent. We propose that the 5' exonuclease activity of the NUC1 nuclease functions during recombination to enlarge heteroduplex tracts following a double-strand break in DNA. In crosses between nuclease-deficient and wild-type strains, the anisotropy in gene conversion frequencies at omega is hypothesized to be due to the slow mixing of parental mitochondrial membranes as they fuse in the zygote.