The cell cycle is a complex process that involves numerous regulatory proteins that direct the cell through a specific sequence of events culminating in mitosis and the production of two daughter cells. Central to this process are the cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks), which complex with the cyclin proteins. These proteins regulate the cell's progression through the stages of the cell cycle and are in turn regulated by numerous proteins, including p53, p21, p16, and cdc25. Downstream targets of cyclin-cdk complexes include pRb and E2F. The cell cycle can be altered to the advantage of many viral agents, most notably polyomaviruses, papillomaviruses, and adenoviruses. The cell cycle often is dysregulated in neoplasia due to alterations either in oncogenes that indirectly affect the cell cycle or in tumor suppressor genes or oncogenes that directly impact cell cycle regulation, such as pRb, p53, p16, cyclin D1, or mdm-2. The cell cycle has become an intense subject of research in recent years. This research has led to the development of techniques useful for the determination of the effects of drugs and toxins on the cell cycle. Any drug or toxin with DNA damaging ability would be expected to alter cell cycle progression, and therefore, the cell cycle should be considered in the design of studies using such chemicals. With the appropriate techniques, cell cycle alterations may also be detected in tissue sections. Because of the ubiquitous nature of the cell cycle, it deserves consideration in the design and interpretation of studies in a wide variety of disciplines.