Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a public-health threat worldwide. Although the mobile genomic island responsible for this phenotype, staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC), has been thought to be nonreplicative, we predicted DNA-replication-related functions for some of the conserved proteins encoded by SCC. We show that one of these, Cch, is homologous to the self-loading initiator helicases of an unrelated family of genomic islands, that it is an active 3'-to-5' helicase and that the adjacent ORF encodes a single-stranded DNA-binding protein. Our 2.9-Å crystal structure of intact Cch shows that it forms a hexameric ring. Cch, like the archaeal and eukaryotic MCM-family replicative helicases, belongs to the pre-sensor II insert clade of AAA+ ATPases. Additionally, we found that SCC elements are part of a broader family of mobile elements, all of which encode a replication initiator upstream of their recombinases. Replication after excision would enhance the efficiency of horizontal gene transfer.