Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is expressed in the nuclei of proliferating cells, but is not detected in resting cells. The kinetics of PCNA expression suggest that it is associated with a phase preceding active DNA synthesis. DNA synthesis is under cytoplasmic control, and there is a cytoplasmic protein, ADR (activator of DNA replication), that induces DNA synthesis in isolated quiescent nuclei. We now report that a human antibody preparation monospecific for PCNA, but not two monoclonal antibodies directed against different epitopes on PCNA, can inhibit the ability of ADR to induce DNA synthesis in isolated quiescent nuclei. This effect is not due to inhibition of DNA polymerase alpha activity. Thus, the anti-PCNA antibody exerts its effect either by directly influencing the initial interaction of ADR with the nucleus, or by inhibiting subsequent synthetic events.