The mammalian cell cycle can be divided into four phases: G1 (gap phase 1), S (DNA synthesis), G2 (gap phase 2), and M (mitosis). Progression through each phase of the cell cycle is delicately controled by the activity of different cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and their regulatory subunits known as cyclins. CDK2, CDK4, CDK6 and their associated cyclins control the G1 to S phase transition. The association of CDK4 or CDK6 with D-type cyclins is critical for G1 phase progression, whereas the CDK2-cyclin E complex is important for initiation of the S phase. Cancer can originate from dysregulation of these regulators. A variety of intrinsic and extrinsic signals were recently identified to regulate these G1 or G1/S CDKs and cyclins. Here we discuss the regulators of these protein kinases at different mechanistic level with a hope that these insights can be applied to develop therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment.