The product of the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene (Rb) controls the passage of mammalian cells through G1 phase. Animal virus oncoproteins interact with the Rb protein via an LXCXE motif and disrupt Rb-E2F complexes, driving cells into S-phase. Recently, we found that the RepA protein of a plant geminivirus contains an LXCXE motif that is essential for its function, a finding that predicts the existence of Rb-related proteins in plant cells. Here we report the isolation of a maize cDNA clone encoding a protein (ZmRb1) which, based on structural and functional studies, is closely related to the mammalian Rb family of growth regulatory proteins. ZmRb1 shows a high degree of amino acid conservation when compared with animal Rb members, particularly in the A/B 'pocket' domain, but ZmRb1 has a shorter N-terminal domain. ZmRb1 forms stable complexes with plant LXCXE-containing proteins, e.g. geminivirus RepA protein. Geminivirus DNA replication is reduced in plant cells transfected with plasmids encoding either ZmRb1 or human p130, a member of the Rb family. This suggests that ZmRb1 controls the G1/S transit in plant cells and is consistent with the fact that geminiviruses need an S-phase environment for DNA replication, as animal DNA tumor viruses do. Our results allow the extension of the Rb family of tumor suppressor proteins to plants and have implications on animal and plant strategies for cell growth control.