The replication licensing system ensures the precise duplication of chromosomal DNA in each cell cycle. In metazoans, a small protein called geminin plays a central role in negatively regulating licensing late in the cell cycle. Recent work using Xenopus egg extracts shows how geminin activity is downregulated on exit from metaphase in a process that requires mitotic cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Geminin is polyubiquitinated by the Anaphase Promoting Complex, but instead of being proteolysed-the normal fate of polyubiquitinated proteins-much of the geminin is deubiquitinated, leaving it inactive. These results suggest a simple model for how precise chromosome duplication is ensured in the Xenopus model system.