The archaeal intron in the 23 S rRNA gene of the hyperthermophile Desulfurococcus mobilis has previously been shown to encode a site-specific DNA endonuclease that contains the LAGLIDADG motif. The enzyme, I-DmoI, has been shown to be active in two forms when expressed in vitro, from RNAs representing either the linear (I-DmoIl) or circular (I-DmoIc) intron. In this study we have overexpressed I-DmoIl and I-DmoIc and purified the enzymes from Escherichia coli. The optimal conditions for the enzymatic activity in vitro were determined, and the enzyme was used to delimit the recognition boundary on its DNA substrate (14-20 nucleotides), an intronless 23 S rRNA gene. Despite belonging to the archaeal kingdom, and being the product of a hyperthermophile, I-DmoI shares many properties with LAGLIDADG intron and intein endonucleases in other kingdoms. These results support the view that these phylogenetically diverse enzymes, which function to mobilize the DNA sequences that encode them, share a common ancestry.