Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is a recessive human disease characterized by radiation sensitivity, genetic instability, immunodeficiency, and high cancer risk. We previously used expression cloning to identify CAT4.5, a human cDNA that partially suppresses multiple aspects of the A-T phenotype upon transfection into cultured cells. Sequencing CAT4.5 revealed a 1.1-kb intronic fragment followed by a related ORF of 2.5 kb that encodes the near full-length ORF for hTOP3, the first mammalian topoisomerase III to be identified. Endogenous expression of hTOP3 was found in all human tissues tested. Both pCAT4.5 and an antisense hTOP3 construct were able to inhibit spontaneous and radiation-induced apoptosis in A-T fibroblasts, whereas overexpression of a full-length hTOP3 cDNA did not. We postulate that topoisomerase III may be deregulated in A-T cells and that CAT4.5 complements the A-T phenotype via a dominant-negative mechanism. Furthermore, functional correction of hyper-recombination in A-T cells by CAT4.5 supports the hypothesis that the hTOP3 topoisomerase is involved in the control of genomic stability, perhaps in concert with the Bloom or Werner syndrome DNA helicases.