Eukaryotic chromosomes are capped with telomeres which allow complete chromosome replication and prevent the ends from being recognized by the repair machinery. The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, is a protozoan parasite where antigenic variation requires reversible silencing of a repository of telomere-adjacent variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes. We have investigated the role of the telomere adjacent to a repressed VSG. In cells lacking telomerase, the rate of telomere-repeat loss appeared to be inversely proportional to telomere length. We therefore constructed strains in which a single telomere could be immediately removed by conditional I-Sce meganuclease cleavage. Following telomere deletion, cells maintain and segregate the damaged chromosome without repairing it. These cells continue to proliferate at the normal rate but progressively lose terminal DNA at the broken end. Although sirtuin-dependent repression is lost along with the telomere, VSG-silencing is preserved. The results provide direct evidence for telomere-dependent repression but suggest a telomere-independent mode of VSG-silencing. They also indicate the absence of a telomere-loss checkpoint in T. brucei.