Etoposide, a nonintercalating antitumor drug, is a potent inhibitor of topoisomerase II activity. When Trypanosoma equiperdum is treated with etoposide, cleavable complexes are stabilized between topoisomerase II and kinetoplast DNA minicircles, a component of trypanosome mitochondrial DNA (T. A. Shapiro, V. A. Klein, and P. T. Englund, J. Biol. Chem. 264:4173-4178, 1989). Etoposide also promotes the time-dependent accumulation of small minicircle catenanes. These catenanes are radiolabeled in vivo with [3H]thymidine. Dimers are most abundant, but novel structures containing up to five noncovalently closed minicircles are detectable. Analysis by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and electron microscopy indicates that dimers joined by up to six interlocks are late replication intermediates that accumulate when topoisomerase II activity is blocked. The requirement for topoisomerase II is particularly interesting because minicircles do not share the features postulated to make this enzyme essential in other systems: for minicircles, the replication fork is unidirectional, access to the DNA is not blocked by nucleosomes, and daughter circles are extensively nicked and (or) gapped.