Antibody specificity and diversity is generated in B cells during germinal center maturation through clonal expansion while they undergo class-switch recombination and somatic hypermutation. Here we demonstrate that the transcriptional repressor Bcl-6 mediates this phenotype by directly repressing ATR in centroblasts and lymphoma cells. ATR is critical in replication and DNA damage-sensing checkpoints. Bcl-6 allowed B cells to evade ATR-mediated checkpoints and attenuated the response of the B cells to exogenous DNA damage. Repression of ATR was necessary and sufficient for those Bcl-6 activities. CD40 signaling 'rescued' B cells from those effects by disrupting the Bcl-6 transcription-repression complex on the promoter of the gene encoding ATR. Our data demonstrate a transcriptional regulatory loop whereby Bcl-6 mediates the centroblast phenotype through transient silencing of ATR.