Although DNA replication is the universal process for the transmission of genetic information in all living organisms, until very recently evidence was lacking for a related structure and function in the proteins (initiators) that trigger replication in the three 'Life Domains' (Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya). In this article new data concerning the presence of common features in the initiators of chromosomal replication in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes are reviewed. Initiators are discussed in the light of: (i) The structure and function of their conserved ATPases Associated with various cellular Activities (AAA+) and winged-helix domains. (ii) The nature of the macromolecular assemblies that they constitute at the replication origins. (iii) Their possible phylogenetic relationship, attempting to sketch the essentials of a hypothetical DNA replication initiator in the micro-organism proposed to be the ancestor of all living cells.