Mutations in the Start class of cell division cycle genes (CDC28, CDC36 and CDC39) define the point in the G(1) phase of the vegetative cycle at which the cell becomes committed to completing another round of cell division. Genetic, cytological and biochemical data demonstrate that these mutations cause meiotic cells to become arrested at pachytene following completion of both chromosomal DNA replication and spindle pole body (SPB) duplication. In contrast these mutations have previously been found to cause arrest of the mitotic cell cycle prior to either of these landmark events, so the role of the Start genes in these events during vegetative growth must be indirect. Our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that CDC28, CDC36 and CDC39 are required for irreversible commitment to nuclear division in both the mitotic and meiotic pathways. CDC28 was additionally found to be required for the SPB separation that precedes spindle formation in preparation for the second meiotic division. Cytological and genetic analyses of this requirement revealed both that such separation may fail independently at either SPB and that ascospore formation can proceed independently of SPB separation.