We describe the identification and characterization of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ZIP2 gene, which encodes a novel meiosis-specific protein essential for synaptonemal complex formation. In the zip2 mutant, chromosomes are homologously paired but not synapsed. The Zip2 protein localizes to discrete foci on meiotic chromosomes; these foci correspond to sites of convergence between paired homologs that are believed to be sites of synapsis initiation. Localization of Zip2p requires the initiation of meiotic recombination. In a mutant defective in double-strand break repair, Zip2p colocalizes with proteins involved in double-strand break formation and processing. We propose that Zip2p promotes the initiation of chromosome synapsis and that localization of Zip2p to sites of interhomolog recombination ensures synapsis between homologous chromosomes.