To examine the chromosomal stability of repetitions of the trinucleotide CAG, we have cloned CAG repeat tracts onto the 3' end of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ADE2 gene and placed the appended gene into the ARO2 locus of chromosome VII. Examination of chromosomal DNA from sibling colonies arising from clonal expansion of strains harboring repeat tracts showed that repeat tracts often change in length. Most changes in tract length are decreases, but rare increases also occur. Longer tracts are more unstable than smaller tracts. The most unstable tracts, of 80 to 90 repeats, undergo changes at rates as high as 3 x 10-2 changes per cell per generation. To examine whether repeat orientation or adjacent sequences alter repeat stability, we constructed strains with repeat tracts in both orientations, either with or without sequences 5' to ADE2 harboring an autonomously replicating sequence (ARS; replication origin). When CAG is in the ADE2 ending strand of strains harboring the ARS, the repeat tract is relatively stable regardless of the orientation of ADE2. When CTG is in the ADE2 coding strand of strains harboring the ARS, the repeat tract is relatively unstable regardless of the orientation of ADE2. Removal of the ARS as well as other sequences adjacent to the 5' end of ADE2 alters the orientation dependence such that stability now depends on the orientation of ADE2 in the chromosome. These results suggest that the proximity of an ARS or another sequence has a profound effect on repeat stability.