The initiation of chromosome replication in Escherichia coli requires the recruitment of the replicative helicase DnaB from the DnaBC complex to the unwound region within the replication origin oriC, supported by the oriC-bound initiator protein DnaA. We defined physical contacts between DnaA and DnaB that involve residues 24–86 and 130–148 of DnaA and residues 154–210 and 1–156 of DnaB respectively. We propose that contacts between DnaA and DnaB occur via two interaction sites on each of the proteins. Interaction domain 24–86 of DnaA overlaps with its N-terminal homo-oligomerization domain (residues 1–86). Interaction domain 154–210 of DnaB overlaps or is contiguous with the domains known to interact with plasmid initiator proteins. Loading of the DnaBC helicase in vivo can only be performed by DnaA derivatives containing (in addition to residues 24–86 and the DNA-binding domain 4) a structurally intact domain 3. Nucleotide binding by domain 3 is, however, not required. The parts of DnaA required for replication of pSC101 were clearly different from those used for helicase loading. Domains 1 and 4 of DnaA, but not domain 3, were found to be involved in the maintenance of plasmid pSC101.