The regulation of mRNA deadenylation constitutes a pivotal mechanism of the post-transcriptional control of gene expression. Here we show that the antiproliferative protein Tob, a component of the Caf1-Ccr4 deadenylase complex, is involved in regulating the expression of the proto-oncogene c-myc. The c-myc mRNA contains cis elements (CPEs) in its 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR), which are recognized by the cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein (CPEB). CPEB recruits Caf1 deadenylase through interaction with Tob to form a ternary complex, CPEB-Tob-Caf1, and negatively regulates the expression of c-myc by accelerating the deadenylation and decay of its mRNA. In quiescent cells, c-myc mRNA is destabilized by the trans-acting complex (CPEB-Tob-Caf1), while in cells stimulated by the serum, both Tob and Caf1 are released from CPEB, and c-Myc expression is induced early after stimulation by the stabilization of its mRNA as an 'immediate-early gene'. Collectively, these results indicate that Tob is a key factor in the regulation of c-myc gene expression, which is essential for cell growth. Thus, Tob appears to function in the control of cell growth at least, in part, by regulating the expression of c-myc.