The Streptomyces wild-type chromosome is linear in all examples studied. The ends of the chromosome or telomeres consist of terminal inverted repeats of various sizes with proteins covalently bound to their 5' ends. The chromosome is very unstable and undergoes very large deletions spontaneously at rates higher than 0.1% of spores. Frequently, the telomeres are included in the deletions. Loss of both telomeres leads to circularization of the chromosome. The wild-type chromosome can also be circularized artificially by targeted recombination. Spontaneously or artificially circularized chromosomes are even more unstable than the linear ones. High-copy-number tandem amplifications of specific chromosomal regions are frequently associated with the deletions. RecA seems to be involved in the amplification mechanism and control of genetic instability.