Based on a high-performance liquid chromatographic pump, we have built a device that allows recirculation of DNA through a 63-microm orifice with ensuing fractionation to a minimum fragment size of approximately 300 base pairs. Residence time of the DNA fragments in the converging flow created by a sudden contraction was found to be sufficiently long to allow extension of the DNA molecules into a highly extended conformation and, hence, breakage to occur at midpoint. In most instances, 30 passages sufficed to obtain a narrow size distribution, with >90% of the fragments lying within a 2-fold size distribution. The shear rate required to achieve breakage was found to be inversely proportional to the 1.0 power of the molecular weight. Compared with a restriction digest, up to 40% of all fragments could be cloned directly, with only marginal improvements in cloning efficiency having been observed upon prior end repair with Klenow, T4 polymerase or T4 polynucleotide kinase. Sequencing revealed a fairly random distribution of the fragments.