Replication-deficient mutants of the unit-copy miniplasmid lambda-P1:5R were isolated after hydroxylamine mutagenesis. Complementation tests showed that the majority of these mutants are defective in the production of the repA protein product. Two of these mutants have suppressible nonsense (amber) mutations. The DNA sequence of one of these, repA103, has been determined. The lesion lies within the repA open reading frame, showing that the repA product is essential for plasmid replication. Complementation of deletion mutants of lambda-P1:5R by repA protein showed that the origin of replication lies to the left of repA and that this 300-base-pair origin region is the only portion of the DNA essential for plasmid replication if repA protein is supplied in trans. Six of the 21 hydroxylamine-induced mutants were not complemented by repA. Replication of three of these could be restored by introduction into the plasmid of a wild-type origin region, suggesting that they were origin-defective. The DNA sequence of two mutants was determined. Mutant rep-11 has a 43-base-pair deletion within the incC sequence (incC is a series of five direct repeats of a 19-base-pair sequence known to be involved in the regulation of plasmid replication). The deletion appears to have been generated by homologous recombination between two repeats. Mutant rep-30 has a single base substitution in a region just to the left of incC that destroys one of five G-A-T-C (dam methylation) sites in this region. As lambda-P1:5R is unable to establish itself as a plasmid in a methylase-defective (dam-) strain, it seems probable that methylation of the G-A-T-C sequences is important for origin function. The incC region and the sequences to its left appear to constitute an essential part of the origin of replication.