Chromosome aberrations may cause cancer and many heritable diseases. Topoisomerase I has been suspected of causing chromosome aberrations by mediating illegitimate recombination. The effects of deletion and of overexpression of the topoisomerase I gene on illegitimate recombination in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been studied. Yeast transformations were carried out with DNA fragments that did not have any homology to the genomic DNA. The frequency of illegitimate integration was 6- to 12-fold increased in a strain overexpressing topoisomerase I compared with that in isogenic control strains. Hot spot sequences [(G/C)(A/T)T] for illegitimate integration target sites accounted for the majority of the additional events after overexpression of topoisomerase I. These hot spot sequences correspond to sequences previously identified in vitro as topoisomerase I preferred cleavage sequences in other organisms. Furthermore, such hot spot sequences were found in 44% of the integration events present in the TOP1 wild-type strain and at a significantly lower frequency in the top1delta strain. Our results provide in vivo evidence that a general eukaryotic topoisomerase I enzyme nicks DNA and ligates nonhomologous ends, leading to illegitimate recombination.