A series of plasmids containing the entire human adenovirus genome with viral DNA termini joined 'head to tail' has been isolated. Several plasmids were able to generate infectious virus following transfection of human cells in spite of having small deletions and rearrangements at the junctions of termini. One plasmid has lost 2 bp of DNA from one end of the viral genome and 11 bp from the other end yet produced viruses with complete wild-type sequences at both ends of the genome. We propose a model for replication of viral DNA off circular templates in which regeneration of terminal information involves translocation of primer and polymerase during initiation of DNA replication. The model suggests a novel mechanism for extension of the 5' ends of linear DNA molecules which could be applicable to chromosomal telomeres.