The purification and characterization of a replication-dependent chromatin assembly factor (CAF-I) from the nuclei of human cells is described. CAF-I is a multisubunit protein that, when added to a crude cytosol replication extract, promotes chromatin assembly on replicating SV40 DNA. Chromatin assembly by CAF-I requires and is coupled with DNA replication. The minichromosomes assembled de novo by CAF-I consist of correctly spaced nucleosomes containing the four core histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, which are supplied in a soluble form by the cytosol replication extract. Thus, by several criteria, the CAF-I-dependent chromatin assembly reaction described herein reflects the process of chromatin formation during DNA replication in vivo.