The major role of RecA is thought to be in helping repair and restart stalled replication forks. During exponential growth, Bacillus subtilis recA cells exhibited few microscopically observable nucleoid defects. However, the efficiency of plating was about 12% of that of the parent strain. A substantial and additive defect in viability was also seen for addB and recF mutants, suggesting a role for the corresponding recombination paths during normal growth. Upon entry into stationary phase, a subpopulation (approximately 15%) of abnormally long cells and nucleoids developed in B. subtilis recA mutants. In addition, recA mutants showed a delay in, and a diminished capacity for, effecting prespore nucleoid condensation.