Zip1 is a yeast synaptonemal complex (SC) central region component and is required for normal meiotic recombination and crossover interference. Physical analysis of meiotic recombination in a zip1 mutant reveals the following: Crossovers appear later than normal and at a reduced level. Noncrossover recombinants, in contrast, seem to appear in two phases: (i) a normal number appear with normal timing and (ii) then additional products appear late, at the same time as crossovers. Also, Holliday junctions are present at unusually late times, presumably as precursors to late-appearing products. Red1 is an axial structure component required for formation of cytologically discernible axial elements and SC and maximal levels of recombination. In a red1 mutant, crossovers and noncrossovers occur at coordinately reduced levels but with normal timing. If Zip1 affected recombination exclusively via SC polymerization, a zip1 mutation should confer no recombination defect in a red1 strain background. But a red1 zip1 double mutant exhibits the sum of the two single mutant phenotypes, including the specific deficit of crossovers seen in a zip1 strain. We infer that Zip1 plays at least one role in recombination that does not involve SC polymerization along the chromosomes. Perhaps some Zip1 molecules act first in or around the sites of recombinational interactions to influence the recombination process and thence nucleate SC formation. We propose that a Zip1-dependent, pre-SC transition early in the recombination reaction is an essential component of meiotic crossover control. A molecular basis for crossover/noncrossover differentiation is also suggested.