The genes encoding two of the subunits of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae origin recognition complex (ORC) have been isolated.Characterization of a temperature-sensitive mutation in the gene encoding the 72-kD subunit of ORC (ORC2) indicates that this protein complex functions early in the DNA replication process. Moreover, ORC derived from orc2ts cells is defective for DNA binding. Others have shown a defect in orc2ts cells in transcriptional silencing at the silent mating-type loci. Consistent with this finding, ORC specifically binds to each of the four mating-type silencers identified in yeast. These findings support the hypothesis that ORC acts as an initiator protein at yeast origins of DNA replication and suggest that ORC also functions in the determination of transcriptional domains.