The organization of six open reading frames which were deduced from the nucleotide sequence of some 10 kb from the replication origin region of Bacillus subtilis resembles the organization of the genes in the rnpA-dnaA-gyrB region of the Escherichia coli chromosome. Based on the detection of homology with the E. coli genes the open reading frames were found to represent the Bacillus 'rnpA', 'rpmH', 'dnaA', 'dnaN', recF and gyrB genes. Only the latter two have also been defined by genetic analysis. Two regulatory regions containing nine and four copies of a repeating sequence, DnaA-box, which is identical with the DnaA protein-binding sequence repeated four times in the E. coli origin of replication, flank the 'dnaA' gene of B. subtilis. One or both of them are proposed to function as origins in the initiation of chromosomal replication. Transcription of the 'dnaA' gene of Bacillus starts in one of these regions and appears to be coupled to initiation of chromosomal replication. We propose that the conserved gene organization in the 'dnaA'-'gyrB' region of B. subtilis is representative of the replication origin region of a primordial replicon. The oriC sequence of E. coli has either been translocated to its present location 44 kb away from the primordial origin or has independently evolved there.