A protein-catalyzing D-loop formation is present in marine spermatocytes, spermatids, and spermatozoa, but is not found in somatic tissue or in premeiotic cells of the germline. Unlike the Escherichia coli RecA protein and the meiotic rec protein (m-rec) previously described, D-loop formation by this protein (referred to as "mAi-rec") does not require ATP. The meiotic profile of mAi-rec activity is only partly similar to that of m-rec. Like m-rec, it rises steeply during early prophase and reaches a peak at pachytene. Unlike m-rec, its activity remains high during the postmeiotic phase of spermatid development and is prominent in immunochemically stained spermatozoa. A polyclonal antibody to E. coli RecA reacts with mAi-rec and inhibits its activity. No such reaction occurs with m-rec protein. The extent of sequence homology between E. coli RecA and murine mAi-rec is highly limited; none of the several monoclonal antibodies tested reacted with mAi-rec.