Temperature-sensitive (ts) mutants of rat 3Y1 fibroblasts representing four separate complementation groups (3Y1tsD123, 3Y1tsF121, 3Y1tsG125, and 3Y1tsH203) are arrested mainly in the G1 phase when cells of randomly proliferating population at 33.8 degrees C are shifted to 39.8 degrees C (temperature arrest). We examined the time lag of the cellular entry into the S phase after release at 33.8 degrees C, both from the temperature arrest and from the arrest at 33.8 degrees C at a confluent cell density (density arrest). In the temperature-arrested cells, as the duration of temperature arrest increased, the time lag of entry into S phase after shift down to 33.8 degrees C was prolonged, in all four mutants. These observations suggest that the four different functional lesions, each causing arrest in the G1 phase, are also responsible for prolongation of the time lag of entry into the S phase in cells arrested in the G1 phase. The prolongation of the time lag in the temperature-arrested cultures was accelerated at a higher cell density, in medium supplemented with a lower concentration of serum, and at a higher restrictive temperature. In the density-arrested cells, as the duration of pre-exposure to 39.8 degrees C was increased, the time lag of entry into S phase at 33.8 degrees C after release from the arrest was drastically prolonged, in all four mutants. In 3Y1tsF121, 3Y1tsG125, and 3Y1tsH203, when the density-arrested cells were prestimulated by serum at 39.8 degrees C for various periods of time, the time lag of entry into S phase after release from the density arrest at 33.8 degrees C was initially shortened, and then, prolonged progressively as the period of prestimulation increased. These findings, taken together with other data, show that all four ts defects affect cells in states ranging from the deeper resting to mid- or late-G1 phase. It is suggested that events represented by these four mutants are required for entry into the S phase and normally operate in parallel but not in sequence in cells in states ranging from the deeper resting to the mid- or late-G1 phases, though they may affect each other.