The mouse Dmc1 gene is an E. coli RecA homolog that is specifically expressed in meiosis. The DMC1 protein was detected in leptotene-to-zygotene spermatocytes, when homolog pairing likely initiates. Targeted gene disruption in the male mouse showed an arrest of meiosis of germ cells at the early zygotene stage, followed by apoptosis. In female mice lacking the Dmc1 gene, normal differentiation of oogenesis was aborted in embryos, and germ cells disappeared in the adult ovary. Meiotic chromosome analysis of Dmc1-deficient mouse spermatocytes revealed random spread of univalent axial elements without correct pairing between homologs. In rare cases, however, we observed complex pairing among nonhomologs. Thus, the mouse Dmc1 gene is required for homologous synapsis of chromosomes in meiosis.