Two specialized forms of site-directed double-strand (ds) DNA breakage and rejoining are part of the physiologic program of lymphocytes. One is recombination of the V, D and J gene sequences, termed V(D)J recombination, occurring during early B- and T-cell development, and the other is class-switch recombination occurring exclusively in mature B cells. For V(D)J recombination significant progress has been made recently elucidating the biochemistry of the reaction. In particular our understanding of how DNA ds breaks are both generated and rejoined has increased. For class-switch recombination no definitive information is known about the nucleases required for making the ds breaks, but recent evidence suggests that the joining phase shares activities also required for V(D)J recombination and general DNA ds break repair.