Replication intermediates from the yeast 2 microns plasmid and a recombinant plasmid containing the yeast autonomous replication sequence ARS1 have been analyzed by two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis. Plasmid replication proceeds through theta-shaped (Cairns) intermediates, terminating in multiply interlocked catenanes that are resolved during S phase to monomer plasmids. Restriction fragments derived from the Cairns forms contain replication forks and bubbles that behave differently from one another when subjected to high voltage and agarose concentrations. The two-dimensional gel patterns observed for different restriction fragments from these two plasmids indicate that in each plasmid there is a single, specific origin of replication that maps, within the limits of our resolution, to the ARS element. Our results strongly support the long-standing assumption that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae an ARS is an origin of replication.