A sensitive and quantitative procedure for the detection of pyrimidine dimers in yeast nuclear DNA is described. The assay employs dimer-specific, endonuclease activities from Micrococcus luteus together with DNA sedimentation through calibrated, alkaline sucrose gradients to detect endonuclease-induced, single-strand breaks. Breaks were induced in a dose-dependent manner from 0 to 80 J m/sup -2/ at 254 nm and in numbers equivalent to the numbers of dimers induced by similar doses. Endonuclease-sensitive sites in the wild-type, haploid strain S288C, after irradiation with 5 J m/sup -2/ (254 nm), were removed in less than 5 min when cells were incuba ted in buffer (pH 7.0) at 28/sup 0/C. After irra diation with dos es from 30 to 100 J m/sup -2/ site removal in S288C required longer postirradiation incubations and was about 90% complete. In a radiation-sensitive strain carrying the mutant allele rad 4-3 the number of endonuclease-sensitive sites remained constant for 6 h after irradiation with 5 J m/sup -2/. The retention of sites in this strain indicates that it is defective in the excision of pyrimidine dimers. (Auth.