Cellular differentiation is a complex process involving growth arrest, exit from the cell cycle, and expression of differentiated cell-type-specific functions. To identify small molecules promoting this process, a chemical library was screened by using a myeloid leukemic cell line that retained the potential to differentiate in culture. In the presence of a purine derivative, aminopurvalanol (AP), cells acquired phenotypic characteristics of differentiated macrophages and became arrested in the cell cycle with a 4N DNA content. AP also inhibited mitosis in Xenopus egg extracts, suggesting that it acted on an evolutionarily conserved cell cycle regulatory pathway. Affinity chromatography and biochemical reconstitution experiments with Xenopus egg extracts identified cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 1-cyclin B as a target of the compound. Although AP potently inhibited immunoprecipitates of both human CDK1 and CDK2 from human leukemic cell extracts, our results indicate that the compound preferentially targets the G2/M-phase transition in vivo.