Previous studies have demonstrated that bent DNA is a conserved property of Saccharomyces cerevisiae autonomously replicating sequences (ARSs). Here we showed that bending elements are contained within ARS subdomains identified by others as replication enhancers. To provide a direct test for the function of this unusual structure, we analyzed the ARS activity of plasmids that contained synthetic bent DNA substituted for the natural bending element in yeast ARS1. The results demonstrated that deletion of the natural bending locus impaired ARS activity which was restored to a near wild-type level with synthetic bent DNA. Since the only obvious common features of the natural and synthetic bending elements are the sequence patterns that give rise to DNA bending, the results suggest that the bent structure per se is crucial for ARS function.