A temperature-sensitive mutant of BHK, designated ts BN-2, shows a rapid drop in 3H-thymidine incorporation along with accumulation of the cells in the G1 phase of the cycle when asynchronous cultures are shifted from 33.5 degrees C to the nonpermissive temperature of 39.5 degrees C. Synchronized cultures of ts BN-2 cells did not enter DNA synthesis when shifted up in G1. Shift-up of cultures at the beginning of the S phase resulted in an approximately normal rate of DNA synthesis for about 2 hr. The rate of DNA synthesis then quickly declined, and the cells became arrested in mid-S after completion of approximately 0.5 rounds of DNA replication. At the same time, the majority of the cells were observed to lose the nuclear membrane and displayed premature chromosome condensation. These events were followed by the appearance of cells containing several micronuclei and eventual cell disruption and death. The nonpermissive temperature appeared to have no effect on either the elongation of short fragments of DNA or the execution of mitosis after the completion of the S phase under permissive conditions. The ts defect in this mutant may directly limit the initiation of DNA synthesis or alter the regulation of chromatin condensation.