The Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway proteins are thought to be involved in the repair of irregular DNA structures including those encountered by the moving replication fork. However, the nature of the DNA structures that recruit and activate the FA proteins is not known. Because FA proteins function within an extended network of proteins, some of which are still unknown, we recently established cell-free assays in Xenopus laevis egg extracts to deconstruct the FA pathway in a fully replication-competent context. Here we show that the central FA pathway protein, xFANCD2, is monoubiquitinated (xFANCD2-L) rapidly in the presence of linear and branched double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) structures but not single-stranded or Y-shaped DNA. xFANCD2-L associates with dsDNA structures in an FA core complex-dependent manner but independently of xATRIP, the regulatory subunit of xATR. Formation of xFANCD2-L is also triggered in response to circular dsDNA, suggesting that dsDNA ends are not required to trigger monoubiquitination of FANCD2. The induction of xFANCD2-L in response to circular dsDNA is replication and checkpoint independent. Our results provide new evidence that the FA pathway discriminates among DNA structures and demonstrate that triggering the FA pathway can be uncoupled from DNA replication and ATRIP-dependent activation.