The human XRCC2 gene, complementing a hamster cell line (irs1) hypersensitive to DNA-damaging agents, was previously mapped to chromosome 7q36.1. Following radiation reduction of human/hamster hybrids, the gene was found to be associated with the marker D7S483. Yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) carrying D7S483 were fused to the irs1 cell line to identify a YAC that complemented the sensitivity defect. Transcribed sequences were isolated by direct cDNA selection using the complementing YAC, and these were mapped back to the YAC and hybrids to define a 400-kb region carrying XRCC2. Sequencing of cDNAs led to the identification of both known and novel gene sequences, including a candidate for XRCC2 with homology to the yeast RAD51 gene involved in the recombinational repair of DNA damage. Strong support for the candidacy of this gene was obtained from its refined map position and by the full complementation of irs1 sensitivity with a 40-kb cosmid carrying the gene.