During meiosis, a transient DNA double-strand break (DSB) occurs in the promoter region (positions -200/-185) of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ARG4 gene and is a likely intermediate in the initiation of meiotic gene conversion events in this region. We report here a functional analysis of the ARG4 DSB based on the study of various deletions in this chromosomal region. We have identified several cis-acting elements located within the -465/+3 region of the ARG4 promoter that control the formation of this DSB. The -465/-317 region includes a transcription terminator and is necessary for a normal amount of ARG4 DSB, but not for its positioning. The -316/-140 region can be replaced by an unrelated DNA sequence where a meiotic DSB then occurs, suggesting that the site of DSB is not sequence-specific, but is positioned at a fixed distance from the adjacent -139/+3 region. Also, in all strains constructed, the amount of meiotic DSB is correlated with the frequency of gene conversion in ARG4, which provides a strong argument for the initiation of gene conversion by a DSB in this region of the yeast genome.