* Minichromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins are subunits of the pre-replication complex that probably function as DNA helicases during the S phase of the cell cycle. Here, we investigated the function of AtMCM2 in Arabidopsis. * To gain an insight into the function of AtMCM2, we combined loss- and gain-of-function approaches. To this end, we analysed two null alleles of AtMCM2, and generated transgenic plants expressing AtMCM2 downstream of the constitutive 35S promoter. * Disruption of AtMCM2 is lethal at a very early stage of embryogenesis, whereas its over-expression results in reduced growth and inhibition of endoreduplication. In addition, over-expression of AtMCM2 induces the formation of additional initials in the columella root cap. In the plt1,2 mutant, defective for root apical meristem maintenance, over-expression of AtMCM2 induces lateral root initiation close to the root tip, a phenotype not reported in the wild-type or in plt1,2 mutants, even when cell cycle regulators, such as AtCYCD3;1, were over-expressed. * Taken together, our results provide evidence for the involvement of AtMCM2 in DNA replication, and suggest that it plays a crucial role in root meristem function.