Yeast replication origins have a modular arrangement of essential DNA sequences containing the ARS consensus sequence (ACS) flanked by auxiliary DNA elements which stimulate origin function. One of the auxiliary elements identified at several origins is a DNA replication enhancer that binds the Abf1p protein. We have isolated an ARS sequence from Saccharomyces cerevisiae based on its ability to bind Abf1p. Here we present a detailed molecular dissection of this ARS, designated ARS 1501, and we demonstrate that it functions as a genomic replication origin on chromosome XV . Mutagenesis of the Abf1p DNA-binding sites revealed that these sequences did not contribute significantly to ARS function. Instead, a new DNA element important for replication, designated REN1501, has been located 5' to the T-rich strand of the ACS. We show that REN1501 functions in either orientation and at variable distances from the ACS, defining this element as a DNA replication enhancer. Most significantly, point mutations within this element decreased the stability of plasmids bearing ARS 1501, suggesting that REN1501 binds a protein important for replication initiation. Only three elements found at origins are known to specifically bind proteins. These include the ARS essential sequences and the Abf1p and Rap1p DNA-binding sites. We show that the function of REN1501 at the origin cannot be replaced by a Rap1p DNA-binding site or a site that binds the transcriptional factor Gal4p and can only be partially substituted for by an Abf1p recognition sequence. This implies that the role of the REN1501 element at the ARS 1501 origin is specific, and suggest that the frequency of origin firing in eukaryotic cells may be regulated by origin-specific enhancers.