The cloning and propagation of large fragments of DNA on yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) has become a routine and valuable technique in genome analysis. Unfortunately, many YAC clones have been found to undergo rearrangements or deletions during the cloning process. The frequency of transformation-associated alterations and mitotic instability can be reduced in a homologous recombination-deficient yeast host strain such as a rad52 mutant. RAD52 is one member of an epistatic group of genes required for the recombinational repair of double-strand breaks in DNA. rad52 mutants grow more slowly and transform less efficiently than RAD + strains and are therefore not ideal hosts for YAC library construction. We have investigated the ability of both null and temperature-sensitive alleles of RAD54 , another member of the RAD52 epistasis group, to prevent rearrangements of human YAC clones containing tandemly repeated DNA sequences. Our results show that the temperature-sensitive rad54-3 allele blocks mitotic recombination between tandemly repeated DYZ3 satellite sequences and significantly stabilizes a human DYZ5 satellite-containing YAC clone. Yeast carrying the rad54-3 mutation can undergo meiosis, have growth and transformation rates comparable with RAD + strains, and therefore represent improved YAC cloning hosts.