We report the cDNA cloning and functional characterization of human cyclin L, a novel cyclin related to the C-type cyclins that are involved in regulation of RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription. Cyclin L also contains a COOH-terminal dipeptide repeat of alternating arginines and serines, a hallmark of the SR family of splicing factors. We show that recombinant cyclin L interacts with p110 PITSLRE kinase, and that cyclin L antibody co-immunoprecipitates a kinase activity from HeLa nuclear extracts that phosphorylates the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of pol II and splicing factor SC35, and is inhibited by the cdk inhibitor p21. Cyclin L antibody inhibits the second step of RNA splicing in vitro, and recombinant cyclin L protein stimulates splicing under suboptimal conditions. Significantly, the IC(50) for splicing inhibition by p21 is similar to the IC(50) for inhibition of the cyclin L-associated kinase activity. Cyclin L and its associated kinase are thus new members of the pre-mRNA processing machinery.