The specific action of a pig skin fraction enriched in epidermal G1-chalone, a tissue-specific inhibitor of epidermal DNA synthesis, was investigated by means of flow cytofluorometry. The results indicate that G1-chalone inhibits progression of partially synchronized rat tongue epithelial cells (line RTE-2) through the cell cycle at a point 2 h prior to the beginning of the S-phase. Approximately 8 h after chalone addition, the cells can overcome the inhibition and begin to enter the S-phase. The duration of this delay is concentration-independent, but the fraction of cells affected is proportional to the chalone concentration. The progression of cells which already have entered S-phase is not affected. In contrast to the G1-chalone preparation, aphidicolin, a potent inhibitor of DNA polymerase alpha, clearly shows S-phase-specific inhibition. These results indicate that the epidermal G1-chalone inhibits epidermal cell proliferation in a fully reversible manner by a highly specific effect on cell cycle traverse.