In order to study DNA replication control elements in cyanobacteria we cloned and sequenced the dnaA gene from the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus marinus. The dnaA gene is ubiquitous among bacteria and encodes the DNA replication initiation factor DnaA. The deduced amino acid sequence of the P. marinus DnaA protein shows highest similarity to the DnaA protein from the freshwater cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Using a solid-phase DNA binding assay we demonstrated that both cyanobacterial DnaA proteins specifically recognize chromosomal origins, oriC, of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis in vitro. The genetic environment of dnaA is not conserved between the two cyanobacteria. Upstream of the P. marinus dnaA gene we identified a gene encoding a putative ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transport protein. The gor gene encoding glutathione reductase lies downstream of dnaA. Comparison of the genetic structure of dnaA regions from 15 representative bacteria shows that the pattern of genes flanking dnaA is not universally conserved among them.