Cyclins were discovered in marine invertebrates based on their dramatic cell cycle periodicity. Recently, the products of three genes associated with cell cycle progression in S. cerevisiae were found to share limited homology with cyclins. Mutational elimination of the CLN1, CLN2, and DAF1/WHI1 products leads to cell cycle arrest independent of cell type, while expression of any one of the genes allows cell proliferation. Using strains where CLN1 was expressed conditionally, the essential function of Cln proteins was found to be limited to the G1 phase. Furthermore, the ability of the Cln proteins to carry out this function was found to decay rapidly upon cessation of Cln biosynthesis. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that Cln proteins activate the Cdc28 protein kinase, shown to be essential for the G1 to S phase transition in S. cerevisiae. Because of the apparent functional redundancy of these genes, DAF1/WHI1 has been renamed CLN3.