The effect of serum and growth factors [platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF)] on the synthesis of the nuclear protein cyclin and its correlation with DNA synthesis has been studied in quiescent mouse 3T3 cells by means of quantitative two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Serum must be present in the medium for at least 8-12 h to induce maximal synthesis of cyclin (6- to 7-fold increase compared with quiescent cells). The stimulation of cyclin synthesis is dose-dependent and correlates directly with DNA synthesis. In addition, partially purified PDGF and FGF also induce cyclin and DNA synthesis in a coordinate way. Both growth factors, like serum, exhibit a similar lag phase to induce maximal cyclin (6- to 7-fold) and DNA synthesis (90% of the cells). Pure PDGF at a concentration as low as 10 ng/ml has the same effect as 10% serum. The coordinate induction of cyclin and DNA synthesis can only be observed with growth factors that induce DNA synthesis. These results strengthen the notion that cyclin is an essential component of the events leading to DNA replication.