In eukaryotic cells, cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) have an important involvement at various points in the cell cycle. At the onset of S phase, active CDK is essential for chromosomal DNA replication, although its precise role is unknown. In budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), the replication protein Sld2 (ref. 2) is an essential CDK substrate, but its phospho-mimetic form (Sld2-11D) alone neither affects cell growth nor promotes DNA replication in the absence of CDK activity, suggesting that other essential CDK substrates promote DNA replication. Here we show that both an allele of CDC45 (JET1) and high-copy DPB11, in combination with Sld2-11D, separately confer CDK-independent DNA replication. Although Cdc45 is not an essential CDK substrate, CDK-dependent phosphorylation of Sld3, which associates with Cdc45 (ref. 5), is essential and generates a binding site for Dpb11. Both the JET1 mutation and high-copy DPB11 by-pass the requirement for Sld3 phosphorylation in DNA replication. Because phosphorylated Sld2 binds to the carboxy-terminal pair of BRCT domains in Dpb11 (ref. 4), we propose that Dpb11 connects phosphorylated Sld2 and Sld3 to facilitate interactions between replication proteins, such as Cdc45 and GINS. Our results demonstrate that CDKs regulate interactions between BRCT-domain-containing replication proteins and other phosphorylated proteins for the initiation of chromosomal DNA replication; similar regulation may take place in higher eukaryotes.