Meiosis is a special type of cell division that is designed to produce gametes. Before meiosis occurs, the cell will be double diploid and have a pair of each chromosome, the same as before mitosis.
Meiosis consists of 2 cell divisions, and results in four cells. The first division is when genetic crossover occurs and the traits on the chromosomes are shuffled. The cell will perform a normal prophase, then enter metaphase during which it begins the crossover, then proceed normally through anaphase and telophase.
The first division produces two normal diploid cells, however the process is not complete. The cell will prepare for another division and enter a second prophase. During the second metaphase, the chromosome pairs are separated so that each new cell will get half the normal genes. The cell division will continue thorough anaphase and telophase, and the nuclei will reassemble. The result of the divisions will be 4 haploid gamete cells.
Crossover is the process by which two chromosomes paired up during prophase I of meiosis exchange a distal portion of their DNA. Crossover occurs when two chromosomes, normally two homologous instances of the same chromosome, break and connect to each other's ends. If they break at the same locus, this merely results in an exchange of genes. This is the normal way in which crossover occurs. If they break at different loci, the result is a duplication of genes on one chromosome and a deletion on the other. If they break on opposite sides of the centromere, this results in one chromosome being lost during cell division.
Any pair of homologous chromosomes may be expected to cross over three or four times during meiosis. This aids evolution by increasing independent assortment, and reducing the genetic linkage between genes on the same chromosome.