Minisatellite DNA is repetitive DNA with a repeat unit length from 15 to 100 bp. While stable during mitosis, it destabilizes during meiosis, altering both in length and in sequence composition. The basis for this instability is unknown. To investigate the factors controlling minisatellite stability, a minisatellite sequence 3′ of the human HRAS1 gene was introduced into the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome, replacing the wild-type H1S4 promoter. The minisatellite tract exhibited the same phenotypes in yeast that it exhibited in mammalian systems. The insertion stimulated transcription of the H1S4 gene; mRNA production was detected at levels above those seen with the wild-type promoter. The insertion stimulated meiotic recombination and created a hot spot for initiation of double-strand breaks during meiosis in the regions immediately flanking the repetitive DNA. The tract length altered at a high frequency during meiosis, and both expansions and contractions in length were detected. Tract expansion, but not contraction, was controlled by the product of the RAD1 gene. RAD1 is the first gene identified that controls specifically the expansion of minisatellite tracts. A model for tract length alteration based on these results is presented.