When Normal Rat Kidney cells are allowed to reenter the cell cycle after quiescence they start to replicate DNA around 12 h, reaching a maximum at 20 h. Activation of DNA polymerase alpha parallels the increase in DNA synthesis. The addition of two different anti-calmodulin drugs, trifluoroperazine (7.5 microM) or W13 (10 micrograms/ml), to the media at 4 h after proliferative activation, inhibits DNA synthesis by 55% and 80%, respectively. The blockade of calmodulin produced by trifluoroperazine allows the cells to progress through G1 phase but stops progression through S phase as determined by 5-Bromo deoxyuridine labeling. Both anti-calmodulin drugs also inhibit by more than 50% the increase in DNA polymerase alpha activity observed at 20 h. These results indicate that a calmodulin-dependent event, essential for the activation of DNA polymerase alpha and subsequently for DNA replication, is produced during G1. Therefore, the control of DNA polymerase alpha activation is one of the ways by which calmodulin is regulating the progression of NRK cells through S phase.