Chromosome organizations of related bacterial genera are well conserved despite a very long divergence period. We have assessed the forces limiting bacterial genome plasticity in Escherichia coli by measuring the respective effect of altering different parameters, including DNA replication, compositional skew of replichores, coordination of gene expression with DNA replication, replication-associated gene dosage, and chromosome organization into macrodomains. Chromosomes were rearranged by large inversions. Changes in the compositional skew of replichores, in the coordination of gene expression with DNA replication or in the replication-associated gene dosage have only a moderate effect on cell physiology because large rearrangements inverting the orientation of several hundred genes inside a replichore are only slightly detrimental. By contrast, changing the balance between the two replication arms has a more drastic effect, and the recombinational rescue of replication forks is required for cell viability when one of the chromosome arms is less than half than the other one. Macrodomain organization also appears to be a major factor restricting chromosome plasticity, and two types of inverted configurations severely affect the cell cycle. First, the disruption of the Ter macrodomain with replication forks merging far from the normal replichore junction provoked chromosome segregation defects. The second major problematic configurations resulted from inversions between Ori and Right macrodomains, which perturb nucleoid distribution and early steps of cytokinesis. Consequences for the control of the bacterial cell cycle and for the evolution of bacterial chromosome configuration are discussed.