The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has approximately 120 genes for the ribosomal RNAs (rDNA) which are organized in tandem within chromosomal DNA. These multiple-copy genes are homogeneous in sequence but can undergo changes in copy number and topology. To determine if these changes reflect unusual features of rDNA metabolism, we have examined both the replication of rDNA in the mitotic cell cycle and the inheritance of rDNA during meiosis. The results indicate that rDNA behaves identically to chromosomal DNA: each rDNA unit is replicated once during the S phase of each cell cycle and each unit is conserved through meiosis. Therefore, the flexibility in copy number and topology of rDNA does not arise from the selective replication of units in each S phase nor by the selective inheritance of units in meiosis.