We have isolated yeast mutants that are defective in the maintenance of circular minichromosomes. The minichromosomes are mitotically stable plasmids, each of which contains a different ARS (autonomously replicating sequence), a centrometeric sequence, CEN5, and two yeast genes, LEU2 and URA3. Forty minichromosome maintenance-defective (Mcm-) mutants were characterized. They constitute 16 complementation groups. These mutants can be divided into two classes, specific and nonspecific, by their differential ability to maintain minichromosomes with different ARSs. The specific class of mutants is defective only in the maintenance of minichromosomes that carry a particular group of ARSs irrespective of the centromeric sequence present. The nonspecific class of mutants is defective in the maintenance of all minichromosomes tested irrespective of the ARS or centromeric sequence present. The specific class may include mutants that do not initiate DNA replication effectively at specific ARSs present on the minichromosomes; the nonspecific class may include mutants that are affected in the segregation and/or replication of circular plasmids in general.