The RB gene product is a nuclear phosphoprotein that undergoes cell cycle-dependent changes in its phosphorylation status. To test whether RB regulates cell cycle progression, purified RB proteins, either full-length or a truncated form containing the T antigen-binding region, were injected into cells. Injection of either protein early in G1 inhibits progression into S phase. Co-injection of anti-RB antibodies antagonizes this effect. Injection of RB into cells arrested at G1/S or late in G1 has no effect on BrdU incorporation, suggesting that RB does not inhibit DNA synthesis in S phase. These results indicate that RB regulates cell proliferation by restricting cell cycle progression at a specific point in G1 and establish a biological assay for RB activity. Neither co-injection of RB with a T antigen peptide nor injection into cells expressing T antigen prevents cells from progressing into S phase, which supports the hypothesis that T antigen binding has functional consequences for RB.