Placental (eutherian) mammals are currently classified into four superordinal clades (Afrotheria, Xenarthra, Laurasiatheria and Supraprimates) of which one, the Afrotheria (a unique lineage of African origin), is generally considered to be basal. Therefore, Afrotheria provide a pivotal evolutionary link for studying fundamental differences between the sex chromosomes of human/mouse (both representatives of Supraprimates and the index species for studies of sex chromosomes) and those of the distantly related marsupials. In this study, we use female fibroblasts to investigate classical features of X chromosome inactivation including replication timing of the X chromosomes and Barr body formation. We also examine LINE-1 accumulation on the X chromosomes of representative afrotherians and look for evidence of a pseudoautosomal region (PAR). Our results demonstrate that asynchronous replication of the X chromosomes is common to Afrotheria, as with other mammals, and Barr body formation is observed across all Placentalia, suggesting that mechanisms controlling this evolved before their radiation. Finally, we provide evidence of a PAR (which marsupials lack) and demonstrate that LINE1 is accumulated on the afrotherian and xenarthran X, although this is probably not due to transposition events in a common ancestor, but rather ongoing selection to retain recently inserted LINE1 on the X. © Springer-Verlag 2007.