Abstract We have isolated adenovirus origins of DNA replication from both the right and left ends of the genome, which are functional on linear autonomously replicating mini-chromosomes. The mini-chromosomes contain two cloned inverted adenovirus termini and require non-defective adenovirus as a helper. Replicated molecules are covalently attached to protein, and DNA synthesis is initiated at the correct nucleotide even when the origins are not located at molecular ends. The activity of embedded origins leads to the generation of linear minichromosomes from circular or linear molecules. These observations therefore suggest that sequences within the adenovirus origin of replication position the protein priming event at the adenovirus terminus. Experiments investigating the regeneration of deleted viral inverted terminal repeat sequences show a sequence-independent requirement for inverted sequences in this process. This result strongly suggests that repair results from the formation of a panhandle structure by a displaced single strand. On the basis of these observations we propose a model for the generation of adenovirus mini-chromosomes from larger molecules.