Mammalian ATR and ATM checkpoint kinases modulate chromatin structures near DNA breaks by phosphorylating a serine residue in the carboxy-terminal tail SQE motif of histone H2AX. Histone H2A is similarly regulated in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The phosphorylated forms of H2AX and H2A, known as γ-H2AX and γ-H2A, are thought to be important for DNA repair, although their evolutionarily conserved roles are unknown. Here, we investigate γ-H2A in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We show that formation of γ-H2A redundantly requires the ATR/ATM-related kinases Rad3 and Tel1. Mutation of the SQE motif to AQE (H2A-AQE) in the two histone H2A genes caused sensitivity to a wide range of genotoxic agents, increased spontaneous DNA damage, and impaired checkpoint maintenance. The H2A-AQE mutations displayed a striking synergistic interaction with rad22Δ (Rad52 homolog) in ionizing radiation (IR) survival. These phenotypes correlated with defective phosphorylation of the checkpoint proteins Crb2 and Chk1 and a failure to recruit large amounts of Crb2 to damaged DNA. Surprisingly, the H2A-AQE mutations substantially suppressed the IR hypersensitivity of crb2Δ cells by a mechanism that required the RecQ-like DNA helicase Rqh1. We propose that γ-H2A modulates checkpoint and DNA repair through large-scale recruitment of Crb2 to damaged DNA. This function correlates with evidence that γ-H2AX regulates recruitment of several BRCA1 carboxyl terminus domain-containing proteins (NBS1, 53BP1, MDC1/NFBD1, and BRCA1) in mammals.