Meiosis is an essential cell-division process for ensuring genetic diversity across generations. Meiotic recombination ensures the accuracy of genetic interchange between homolous chromosomes and segregation of parental alleles. Programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), catalyzed by the evolutionarily conserved topoisomerase VIA (a subunit of the archaeal type II DNA topoisomerase)-like enzyme Spo11 and several other factors, is a distinctive feature of meiotic recombination initiation. The meiotic DSB formation and its regulatory mechanisms are similar among species, but certain aspects are distinct. In this review, we introduced the cumulative knowledge of the plant proteins crucial for meiotic DSB formation and technical advances in DSB detection. We also summarized the genome-wide DSB hotspot profiles for different model organisms. Moreover, we highlighted the classical views and recent advances in our knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms that ensure the fidelity of DSB formation, such as multifaceted kinase-mediated phosphorylation and the consequent high-dimensional changes in chromosome structure. We provided an overview of recent findings concerning DSB formation, distribution and regulation, all of which will help us to determine whether meiotic DSB formation is evolutionarily conserved or varies between plants and other organisms.