Cyclin D 1 belongs to a family of protein kinases that have been implicated in cell cycle regulation. In the present study we characterized cyclin D1 expression in 6 cultured human pancreatic cancer cell lines and in normal and cancerous human pancreatic tissues. A 4.4-kb cyclin D1 mRNA transcript was present in all cell lines and in all pancreatic tissues. Cyclin D1 mRNA levels were 2.1-fold higher in the pancreatic cancers than in normal pancreatic tissues (p < 0.0002). Cancer patients with lower cyclin D1 levels (n=16) had a median survival of 15.5 months whereas patients with higher levels (n=16) had a median survival of 6.5 months (p < 0.007). These data indicate that cyclin D1 expression may serve as a predictor of postoperative survival in pancreatic cancer patients, and raise the possibility that treatment modalities blocking cyclin D1 activity may have a future role in the therapy of these patients.