By using RT-PCR and degenerate oligonucleotides based on the sequence homology between the yeast RAD51 and DMC1 genes, two genes belonging to the RAD51 and DMC1 families were isolated from Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia. A RAD51 genomic DNA was also sequenced which is almost identical to its Landsberg erecta counterpart, except for a few translationally silent substitutions and for the presence of a 527-bp element downstream of the polyadenylation site. This element is repeated in the genome of Arabidopsis. Northern analyses were conducted to characterize the expression pattern of both these genes. AtRAD51 and AtDMC1 are expressed in flower buds, but also in the mitotically active cells from a suspension culture. AtRAD51, but not AtDMC1, transcript level increases after gamma irradiation of the cells. Finally, a synchronisation experiment conducted with the suspension culture indicated that not only AtRAD51 but also AtDMC1 are regulated during the cell cycle, with S-phase-specific induction. Since DMC1 genes have always been regarded as being specifically meiotic, we discuss the significance of this mitotic transcriptional regulation in Arabidopsis.