The nonrandom distribution of meiotic recombination shapes heredity and genetic diversification. A widely held view is that individual hotspots — favored sites of recombination initiation — are always ephemeral because they evolve rapidly toward extinction. An alternative view, often ignored or dismissed as implausible, predicts conservation of the positions of hotspots if they are chromosomal features under selective constraint, such as gene promoters. Here we empirically test opposite predictions of these theories by comparing genome-wide maps of meiotic recombination initiation from widely divergent species in the Saccharomyces clade. We find that the frequent overlap of hotspots with promoters is true of the species tested and, consequently, hotspot positions are well conserved. Remarkably, however, the relative strength of individual hotspots is also highly conserved, as are larger-scale features of the distribution of recombination initiation. This stability, not predicted by prior models, suggests that the particular shape of the yeast recombination landscape is adaptive, and helps in understanding evolutionary dynamics of recombination in other species.