Mammary epithelial cells from mature virgin mice are similar to those from primiparous mice in several respects. However, there is one known difference. The cells from the mature virgin must traverse the cell cycle in order to become competent to make casein and enzymatically active alpha-lactalbumin in vitro; those from the primiparous animal can make these proteins without first traversing the cycle. In this regard, cells from human placental lactogen- and prolactin-treated mature virgins are, after involution, similar to those from primiparous mice. The developemental block in the cells from the mature virgin, imposed by preventing cell cycle traversal, has been partially delineated. It does not appear to reside at the levels of ultrastructural maturation or the formation of casein messenger RNA. Rather, the lesion is postranscriptional and may be at the level of translation, or posttranslational modification, or both.