We examined the role of cyclin D1 in cultured bovine tracheal myocyte mitogenesis. Immunoblots using a polyclonal antibody against cyclin D1 showed the appearance of this protein 4 h after treatment with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), a potent mitogen for these cells. Immunoblots utilizing an antibody against the 110-kDa retinoblastoma protein (Rb), a downstream phosphorylation target of the cyclin D1/cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (cdk4) complex, showed reduced electrophoretic mobility of this protein as early as 8 h after PDGF treatment, suggesting phosphorylation of Rb by the cyclin D1/cdk4 dimer in vivo. Epidermal growth factor (EGF), a nonmitogen, failed to induce either cyclin D1 synthesis or Rb phosphorylation. PDGF treatment of cells transiently transfected with the full-length cyclin D1 promoter subcloned into a luciferase reporter increased luciferase activity almost threefold, demonstrating transcriptional activation of the cyclin D1 promoter with mitogenic stimulation. Finally, microinjection of individual myocytes with an affinity-purified antibody against cyclin D1 reduced the percentage of cells traversing S phase after serum stimulation, as assessed by fractional bromodeoxyuridine labeling (isotype control antibody, 0.74 +/- 0.10; anti-cyclin D1, 0.22 +/- 0.04; P = 0.0001). We conclude that 1) mitogenic stimulation of cultured bovine tracheal myocytes by PDGF induces cyclin D1 transcriptional activation and protein expression, 2) cyclin D1 expression is accompanied by Rb phosphorylation, which is evidence of increased cyclin D1-associated kinase activity in vivo, and 3) microinjection of anti-cyclin D1 antibodies inhibits cellular DNA synthesis, which is evidence that cyclin D1 is required for airway smooth muscle S phase traversal.