The antigen receptors of B and T lymphocytes are encoded in multiple germ-line DNA segments that are joined during lymphocyte development. The recombination-activating proteins RAG-1 and RAG-2 are both essential for this process, termed V(D)J rearrangement. Phosphorylation of the RAG-2 protein at Thr-490 by one or more cyclin-dependent kinases is associated with its rapid degradation. In an immature B-cell line and in normal thymocytes, RAG-2 protein accumulates preferentially in the G0/G1 phases of the cell cycle and declines by at least 20-fold before cells enter S phase. The amount of RAG-2 protein remains low throughout the S, G2, and M phases. The amount of RAG-1 protein shows considerably less fluctuation. The variation in RAG-2 protein is likely to be established, at least in part, by a posttranscriptional mechanism. These observations suggest that V(D)J rearrangement occurs entirely or preferentially within G0/G1.