The cellular transcription factor DRTF1/E2F integrates cell cycle events with the transcription apparatus through its cyclical interactions with important regulators of cellular proliferation. Two sequence-specific DNA binding proteins, DP-1 and E2F-1, are components of DRTF1/E2F which synergistically interact in a DP-1/E2F-1 heterodimer. Here, we show that DP-1 is a very frequent, possibly universal, component of DRTF1/E2F in 3T3 cells since it is present in all forms of the DNA binding activity that occur during cell cycle progression. Furthermore, the DP-1 polypeptide, which is phosphorylated, undergoes a phosphorylation-dependent mobility shift during the cell cycle suggesting that its level of phosphorylation is regulated during cell cycle progression. A C-terminal region in DP-1 can interact with pRb which, in the context of the DP-1/E2F-1 heterodimer, contributes to the efficiency of pRb binding. The DP-1/E2F-1 heterodimer specifically interacts with the adenovirus type 5 E4 orf 6/7 protein, to produce a DNA binding activity which binds co-operatively to, and transcriptionally activates through, two appropriately positioned E2F sites in a manner which resembles the regulation of DRTF1/E2F by E4 orf 6/7 during adenovirus infection. We conclude that DP-1 is a frequent and cell cycle-regulated component of DRTF1/E2F, and that in the DP-1/E2F-1 heterodimer it is functionally important for recognition by pRb and the E4 orf 6/7 protein.