The RAD10 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is required for nucleotide excision repair of DNA. Expression of RAD10 mRNA and Rad10 protein was demonstrated in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells containing amplified copies of the gene, and RAD10 mRNA was also detected in stable transfectants without gene amplification. Following transfection with the RAD10 gene, three independently isolated excision repair-defective CHO cell lines from the same genetic complementation group (complementation group 2) showed partial complementation of sensitivity to killing by UV radiation and to the DNA cross-linking agent mitomycin C. These results were not observed when RAD10 was introduced into excision repair-defective CHO cell lines from other genetic complementation groups, nor when the yeast RAD3 gene was expressed in cells from genetic complementation group 2. Enhanced UV resistance in cells carrying the RAD10 gene was accompanied by partial reactivation of the plasmid-borne chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (cat) gene following its inactivation by UV radiation. The phenotype of CHO cells from genetic complementation group 2 is also specifically complemented by the human ERCC1 gene, and the ERCC1 and RAD10 genes have similar amino acid sequences. The present experiments therefore indicate that the structural homology between the yeast Rad10 and human Ercc1 polypeptides is reflected at a functional level, and suggest that nucleotide excision repair proteins are conserved in eukaryotes.