An essential step in the pathway by which growth factors trigger cellular proliferation is the induction of high levels of protein synthesis. This appears in part to be controlled by multiple phosphorylation of the ribosomal protein S6 (refs 4, 5). The main kinase responsible, p70s6k (refs 6-8), is activated through the phosphorylation of four sites clustered in a putative autoinhibitory domain, which is mediated by a signalling pathway distinct from those used by other well characterized mitogen-activated serine/threonine kinases (such as p42/p44mapk or p90rsk; refs 10, 11). Here we investigate the role of p70s6k in the mitogenic response. Microinjection of quiescent rat embryo fibroblasts with any of three distinct polyclonal antibodies to p70s6k abolishes serum-induced entry into S phase of the cell cycle. This effect is preceded by almost complete abrogation of the activation of protein synthesis and the expression of an essential immediate early gene product, c-fos. The inhibitory effect on DNA synthesis is also elicited by microinjection of the antibodies late in G1 phase, consistent with the finding that p70s6k activity remains high throughout G1.