During a normal cell cycle, chromosomes are exposed to many biochemical reactions that require specific types of DNA movement. Separation forces move replicated chromosomes into separate sister cell compartments during cell division, and the contemporaneous acts of DNA replication, RNA transcription and cotranscriptional translation of membrane proteins cause specific regions of DNA to twist, writhe and expand or contract. Recent experiments indicate that a dynamic and stochastic mechanism creates supercoil DNA domains soon after DNA replication. Domain structure is subsequently reorganized by RNA transcription. Examples of transcription-dependent chromosome remodelling are also emerging from eukaryotic cell systems.