The concepts of self-generation, autonomous boundary and self-maintenance are explained briefly. The “protocell” is presented as a model of self-maintenance which is based on simple physical mechanisms of diffusion and reaction. The time evolution of the surface of the protocell is taken into account explicitly in the form of a Stefan condition giving rise to a non-linear feedback of the surface motion to the reaction and diffusion processes inside the protocell. The spatio-temporal dynamics are investigated, particularly in the neighbourhood of the stationary states, showing a self-maintaining behaviour under a certain range of nutritional conditions. Under another set of conditions we find an instability leading to a division process so that the population of protocells becomes self-maintaining instead of the single individual. The presented formulation of the protocell model is crucially improved compared with a previous version which required boundary conditions at infinity. The previous version was not strictly self-maintaining since dynamics outside the cell were essential for its behaviour.