Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection of permissive cells has been reported to induce a cell cycle halt. One or more viral proteins may be involved in halting progression at different stages of the cell cycle. We investigated how HCMV infection, and specifically IE86 protein expression, affects the cell cycles of permissive and nonpermissive cells. We used a recombinant virus that expresses the green fluorescent protein (GFP) to determine the effects of HCMV on the cell cycle of permissive cells. Fluorescence by GFP allowed us to select for only productively infected cells. Replication-defective adenovirus vectors expressing the IE72 or IE86 protein were also used to efficiently transduce 95% or more of the cells. The adenovirus-expressed IE86 protein was determined to be functional by demonstrating negative autoregulation of the major immediate-early promoter and activation of an early viral promoter in the context of the viral genome. To eliminate adenovirus protein effects, plasmids expressing GFP for fluorescent selection of only transfected cells and wild-type IE86 protein or a mutant IE86 protein were tested in permissive and nonpermissive cells. HCMV infection induced the entry of U373 cells into the S phase. All permissive cells infected with HCMV were blocked in cell cycle progression and could not divide. After either transduction or transfection and IE86 protein expression, the number of all permissive or nonpermissive cell types in the S phase increased significantly, but the cells could no longer divide. The IE72 protein did not have a significant effect on the S phase. Since IE86 protein inhibits cell cycle progression, the IE2 gene in a human fibroblast IE86 protein-expressing cell line was sequenced. The IE86 protein in these retrovirus-transduced cells has mutations in a critical region of the viral protein. The locations of the mutations and the function of the IE86 protein in controlling cell cycle progression are discussed.