Regulators of the cell cycle such as cyclin E play an important part in neoplasia. The cyclin E protein forms a partnership with a specific protein kinase. This complex phosphorylates key substrates to initiate DNA synthesis. Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKIs) are able to suppress the activity of cyclin E. Various substances (including proteins produced by oncogenic viruses) affect cyclin E directly or indirectly through an interaction with CKIs. These interactions are important in elucidating the mechanisms of neoplasia. They may also provide prognostic information in a wide range of common cancers. Cyclin E may even be a target for treatment of cancers in the future.