We have shown that the DNA sequences adjacent to the telomeres of Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosomes are highly conserved and contain a high density of replication origins. The salient features of these telomeres can be summarized as follows. There are three moderately repetitive elements present at the telomeres: the 131 sequence (1 to 1.5 kb), the highly conserved Y sequence (5.2 kb), and the less conserved X sequence (0.3 to 3.75 kb). There is a high density of replication origins spaced about 6.7 kb apart at the telomeres. These replication origins are part of the X or the Y sequences. Some of the 131-Y repetitive units are tandemly arranged. The terminal sequence T (about 0.33 to 0.6 kb) is different from the 131, X, or Y sequences and is heterogeneous in length. The order of these sequences from the telomeric end towards the centromere is T-(Y-131)n-X-, where n ranges from 1 to no more than 4. Although these telomeric sequences are conserved among S. cerevisiae strains, they show striking divergence in certain closely related yeast species.