The replication initiator protein of bacteriophage f1 (gene II protein) binds to the phage origin and forms two complexes that are separable by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Complex I is formed at low gene II protein concentrations, and shows protection from DNase I of about 25 base-pairs (from position +2 to +28 relative to the nicking site) at the center of the minimal origin sequence. Complex II is produced at higher concentrations of the protein, and has about 40 base-pairs (from -7 to +33) protected. On the basis of gel mobility, complex II appears to contain twice the amount of gene II protein as does complex I. The 40 base-pair sequence protected in complex II corresponds to the minimal origin sequence as determined by in-vivo analyses. The central 15 base-pair sequence (from +6 to +20) of the minimal origin consists of two repeats in inverted orientation. This sequence, when cloned into a plasmid, can form complex I, but not complex II. We call this 15 base-pair element the core binding sequence for gene II protein. Methylation interference with the formation of complex I by the wild-type origin indicates that gene II protein contacts six guanine residues located in a symmetric configuration within the core binding sequence. Formation of complex II requires, in addition to the core binding sequence, the adjacent ten base-pair sequence on the right containing a third homologous repeat. A methylation interference experiment performed on complex II indicates that gene II protein interacts homologously with the three repeats. In complex II, gene II protein protects from DNase I digestion not only ten base-pairs on the right but also ten base-pairs on the left of the sequence that is protected in complex I. Footprint analyses of various deletion mutants indicate that the left-most ten base-pairs are protected regardless of their sequence. The site of nicking by gene II protein is located within this region. A model is presented for the binding reaction involving both protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions.