The centrosome usually replicates in a semiconservative fashion, i.e., new centrioles form in association with preexisting "maternal" centrioles. De novo formation of centrioles has been reported for a few highly specialized cell types but it has not been seen in vertebrate somatic cells. We find that when centrosomes are completely destroyed by laser microsurgery in CHO cells arrested in S phase by hydroxyurea, new centrosomes form by de novo assembly. Formation of new centrosomes occurs in two steps: approximately 5-8 h after ablation, clouds of pericentriolar material (PCM) containing gamma-tubulin and pericentrin appear in the cell. By 24 h, centrioles have formed inside of already well-developed PCM clouds. This de novo pathway leads to the formation of a random number of centrioles (2-14 per cell). Although clouds of PCM consistently form even when microtubules are completely disassembled by nocodazole, the centrioles are not assembled under these conditions.