The meiotic cell division reduces the chromosome number from diploid to haploid to form gametes for sexual reproduction. Although much progress has been made in understanding meiotic recombination and the two meiotic divisions, the processes leading up to recombination, including the prolonged pre-meiotic S phase (meiS) and the assembly of meiotic chromosome axes, remain poorly defined. We have used genome-wide approaches in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to measure the kinetics of pre-meiotic DNA replication and to investigate the interdependencies between replication and axis formation. We found that replication initiation was delayed for a large number of origins in meiS compared to mitosis and that meiotic cells were far more sensitive to replication inhibition, most likely due to the starvation conditions required for meiotic induction. Moreover, replication initiation was delayed even in the absence of chromosome axes, indicating replication timing is independent of the process of axis assembly. Finally, we found that cells were able to install axis components and initiate recombination on unreplicated DNA. Thus, although pre-meiotic DNA replication and meiotic chromosome axis formation occur concurrently, they are not strictly coupled. The functional separation of these processes reveals a modular method of building meiotic chromosomes and predicts that any crosstalk between these modules must occur through superimposed regulatory mechanisms.