Chinese hamster ovary cells were synchronized into purified populations of viable G1-, S-, G2-, and M-phase cells by a combination of methods, including growth arrest, aphidicolin block, cell cycle progression, mitotic shake-off, and centrifugal elutriation. The DNA content and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) labeling index were measured in each purified fraction by dual-parameter flow cytometry. The cell cycle distributions determined from the DNA measurements alone (single parameter) were compared with those calculated from both DNA and BrdUrd data (dual parameter). The results show that highly purified cells can be obtained using these methods, but the assessed purity depends on the method of cell cycle analysis. Using the single versus dual parameter measurement to determine cell cycle distributions gave similar results for most phases of the cell cycle, except for cells near the transition from G1- to S-phase and S- to G2-phase. There the BrdUrd labeling index determined by flow cytometry was more sensitive for detecting small amounts of DNA synthesis. As an alternative to flow cytometry, a simple method of measuring BrdUrd labeling index on cell smears was used and gave the same result as flow cytometry. Measuring both DNA content and DNA synthesis improves characterization of synchronized cell populations, especially at the transitions in and out of S-phase, when cells are undergoing dramatic shifts in biochemical activity.