Autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) elements were first identified in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as chromosomal DNA fragments that promoted high frequency of transformation and extrachromosomal maintenance of plasmid DNA. These specific sequence elements were subsequently shown to function as origins of DNA replication. Detailed analysis of the structure and function of ARS elements has been limited largely to S. cerevisiae and more recently the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Characterization of ARS activity in other eukaryotes is far less complete. Here we describe the ARS assay developed in yeast and its application to the study of origin function in other eukaryotes. Other available methods for detecting autonomous replication in these systems are also presented.