We demonstrate that cell-free extracts prepared from activated eggs of X. laevis by a method similar to that of Lohka and Masui initiate and complete semiconservative DNA replication of sperm nuclei and plasmid DNA. The efficiency of replication is comparable to that in the intact egg. Under optimal conditions 70%-100% of nuclei, and up to 38% of naked DNA molecules replicate completely. Genuine initiation of replication occurs rather than elongation of preformed primers or priming of irreversibly denatured templates. Rereplication of templates is observed under certain conditions. In addition to replicating DNA, these extracts also assemble nucleus-like structures from naked DNA.