D-type cyclins are important cell cycle regulators that promote cellular proliferation in response to growth factors by inactivation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb). Cyclin D1 has been shown to be overexpressed in several cancer types and to act as an oncogene in breast cancers. As D-type cyclins are rate limiting for progression into S phase, the level at which they accumulate must be carefully regulated. Several mechanisms leading to overexpression of cyclin D1 have been reported including amplification, translocation and stabilization of the mRNA. Here, we present data showing elevated cyclin D1 protein in breast cancer samples in the absence of elevated mRNA level. Further, we found that in these cases, cyclin D3 protein also accumulates and that the coordinate increase in cyclin D1 and D3 occurs in 15% (7/47) of breast cancers. In addition we show that blocking the activity of the 26S proteosome results in the accumulation of cyclin D1 and D3, that both D-type cyclins are ubiquitinated and associate with Cul-1, a component of the SCF ubiquitin ligase complex. Finally, we show that the coordinated elevation of cyclin D1 and D3 is also observed in the breast cell line MCF-7 and demonstrate that the degradation of cyclin D1 and D3 is deficient in this cell line. These results indicate that cyclin D1 and cyclin D3 share a common mechanism of degradation and we propose that the coordinate increase of D-type cyclins observed in primary breast cancers reflects a defect in their proteolysis.