H1 and core histone mRNA levels have been examined in the presence of protein synthesis inhibitors with different mechanisms of action. Total HeLa cell RNAs were analyzed by Northern Blot hybridization using cloned human histone genes as probes. Inhibition of DNA replication resulted in a rapid decline in histone mRNA levels. However, in the presence of cycloheximide or puromycin, H1 and core mRNAs did not decrease in parallel with DNA synthesis, but were stabilized and accumulated. Inhibition of DNA synthesis with hydroxyurea after the inhibition of protein synthesis did not lead to a decline in histone mRNA levels. These results suggest that synthesis of a protein(s)--perhaps a histone protein(s)--is required for the coordination of DNA synthesis and histone mRNA levels.