Previously, we characterized Saccharomyces cerevisiae exonuclease 5 (EXO5), which is required for mitochondrial genome maintenance. Here, we identify the human homolog (C1orf176; EXO5) that functions in the repair of nuclear DNA damage. Human EXO5 (hEXO5) contains an iron-sulfur cluster. It is a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-specific bidirectional exonuclease with a strong preference for 5′-ends. After loading at an ssDNA end, hEXO5 slides extensively along the ssDNA prior to cutting, hence the designation sliding exonuclease. However, the single-stranded binding protein human replication protein A (hRPA) restricts sliding and enforces a unique, species-specific 5′-directionality onto hEXO5. This specificity is lost with a mutant form of hRPA (hRPA-t11) that fails to interact with hEXO5. hEXO5 localizes to nuclear repair foci in response to DNA damage, and its depletion in human cells leads to an increased sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, in particular interstrand cross-linking-inducing agents. Depletion of hEXO5 also results in an increase in spontaneous and damage-induced chromosome abnormalities including the frequency of triradial chromosomes, suggesting an additional defect in the resolution of stalled DNA replication forks in hEXO5-depleted cells.