The human mitochondrial transcription machinery generates the RNA primers needed for initiation of heavy strand DNA synthesis. Most DNA replication events from the heavy strand origin are prematurely terminated, forming a persistent RNA-DNA hybrid, which remains annealed to the parental DNA strand. This triple-stranded structure is called the D-loop and encompasses the conserved sequence box II, a DNA element required for proper primer formation. We here use a purified recombinant mitochondrial transcription system and demonstrate that conserved sequence box II is a sequence-dependent transcription termination element in vitro. Transcription from the light strand promoter is prematurely terminated at positions 300-282 in the mitochondrial genome, which coincide with the major RNA-DNA transition points in the D-loop of human mitochondria. Based on our findings, we propose a model for primer formation at the origin of heavy strand DNA replication.