Although the mechanisms of eukaryotic chromosome segregation and cell division have been elucidated to a certain extent, those for bacteria remain largely unknown. Here we present a computational string model for simulating the dynamics of Escherichia coli chromosome segregation. A novel thermal-average force field accounting for stretching, bending, volume exclusion, friction and random fluctuation is introduced. A Langevin equation is used to simulate the chromosome structural changes. The mechanism of chromosome segregation is thereby postulated as a result of free energy-driven structural optimization with replication introduced chromosomal mass increase. Predictions of the model agree well with observations of fluorescence labeled chromosome loci movement in living cells. The results demonstrate the possibility of a mechanism of chromosome segregation that does not involve cytoskeletal guidance or advanced apparatus in an E. coli cell. The model also shows that DNA condensation of locally compacted domains is a requirement for successful chromosome segregation. Simulations also imply that the shape-determining protein MreB may play a role in the segregation via modification of the membrane pressure. Published by Elsevier Ltd.