Origin recognition complex (ORC) proteins were first discovered as a six-subunit assemblage in budding yeast that promotes the initiation of DNA replication. Orc1-5 appear to be present in all eukaryotes, and include both AAA+ and winged-helix motifs. A sixth protein, Orc6, shows no structural similarity to the other ORC proteins, and is poorly conserved between budding yeast and most other eukaryotic species. The replication factor Cdc6 has extensive sequence similarity with Orc1 and phylogenetic analysis suggests the genes that encode them may be paralogs. ORC proteins have also been found in the archaea, and the bacterial DnaA replication protein has ORC-like functional domains. In budding yeast, Orc1-6 are bound to origins of DNA replication throughout the cell cycle. Following association with Cdc6 in G1 phase, the sequential hydrolysis of Cdc6 - then ORC-bound ATP loads the Mcm2-7 helicase complex onto DNA. Localization of ORC subunits to the kinetochore and centrosome during mitosis and to the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis has been observed in metazoan cells and, along with phenotypes observed following knockdown with short interfering RNAs, point to additional roles at these cell-cycle stages. In addition, ORC proteins function in epigenetic gene silencing through interactions with heterochromatin factors such as Sir1 in budding yeast and HP1 in higher eukaryotes. Current avenues of research have identified roles for ORC proteins in the development of neuronal and muscle tissue, and are probing their relationship to genome integrity.