Gene amplification is frequently mediated by the initial production of acentric, autonomously replicating extrachromosomal elements. The 4,000 extrachromosomal copies of the mouse adenosine deaminase (ADA) amplicon in B-1/50 cells initiate their replication remarkably synchronously in early S phase and at approximately the same time as the single-copy chromosomal locus from which they were derived. The abundance of ADA sequences and favorable replication timing characteristics in this system led us to determine whether DNA replication initiates in ADA episomes within a preferred region and whether this region is the same as that used at the corresponding chromosomal locus prior to amplification. This study reports the detection and localization of a discrete set of DNA fragments in the ADA amplicon which label soon after release of synchronized B-1/50 cells into S phase. A switch in template strand complementarity of Okazaki fragments, indicative of the initiation of bidirectional DNA replication, was found to lie within the same region. This putative replication origin is located approximately 28.5 kbp upstream of the 5' end of the ADA gene. The same region initiated DNA replication in the single-copy ADA locus of the parental cells. These analyses provide the first evidence that the replication of episomal intermediates involved in gene amplification initiates within a preferred region and that the same region is used to initiate DNA synthesis within the native locus.