Cyclin A is a positive regulatory component of kinases required for the progression through S phase and for the transition between the G2 and M phases of the cell division cycle. Previous studies have demonstrated that the promoter of its gene is under transcriptional repression in quiescent cells. Whereas the DNA sequences mediating this effect have been clearly delineated, the nature of the proteins acting in trans is still debated. Indirect observations suggest the involvement of proteins related to the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRb). However, the precise role of these proteins has been difficult to assess, since most experiments designed to analyse their function have been carried out in transformed cell lines. Nevertheless, a current model has emerged whereby the role of the p130 protein would be restricted to resting and early G1 cells and p107, absent in quiescent cells, would be involved later in the control of the G1/S transition, whilst pRb would be effective throughout the cell cycle. We show here that cyclin A transcriptional inhibition is relieved in primary fibroblasts from pRb(-/-) embryos and not in fibroblasts from p13O(-/-), p107(-/-) or even p130(-/-)/p107(-/-) double mutant embryos. This suggests a unique role for pRb in controlling the extinction of specific genes in G0, providing thus the first example of non-overlapping functions achieved by the different pocket proteins.