In most bacteria, the timing and synchrony of initiation of chromosomal replication are determined by the binding of the AAA(+) protein DnaA to a set of high- and low-affinity sites found within the origin of chromosomal replication (oriC). Despite the large amount of information on the role and regulation of DnaA, the actual structure of the DnaA-oriC complex and the mechanism by which it primes the origin for the initiation of replication remain unclear. In this study, we have performed magnetic tweezers experiments to investigate the structural properties of the DnaA-oriC complex. We show that the DnaA-ATP-oriC complex adopts a right-handed helical conformation involving a variable amount of DNA and protein whose features fit qualitatively as well as quantitatively with an existing model based on the crystal structure of a truncated DnaA tetramer obtained in the absence of DNA. We also investigate the topological effect of oriC's DNA unwinding element.