The R1162-encoded protein RepIB is essential for replication of the plasmid and binds specifically to iterons within the replicative origin. The protein causes the localized melting of DNA (determined by sensitivity to P1 nuclease) at a site within the AT-rich region of the origin, about 60 bp from the iteron binding sites and separated from them by a GC-rich tract. Point mutations have been isolated in the AT-rich DNA. These mutations interfere with origin activity and also prevent the protein-induced sensitivity to P1. A second-site suppressor of one of these mutations maps in the repIb gene and restores both origin function and sensitivity to P1. The results suggest a specific interaction between RepIB and origin DNA at a position distant from its primary binding site.