The cell cycle in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is controlled by regulation of START in late G1. The CLN1, CLN2 and CLN3 family of cyclin homologues is required for cells to pass START. They probably act by activating the CDC28 protein kinase. Expression of CLN1 or CLN3 under the control of an inducible promoter shows that transcription of either gene is sufficient for cyclin-deficient strains arrested in G1 to traverse START. A model of START regulation involves activation of CDC28 kinase by any CLN protein, leading to activation of CLN1 and CLN2 transcription in a positive feedback loop and passage through START. The cell cycle-dependent transcriptional regulators SWI4 and SWI6 may be components of the feedback loop. Cell cycle commitment entails resistance to the inhibitory action of mating factor, which correlates with peak levels of CLN1 and CLN2 mRNAs. FAR1 encodes an alpha-factor-dependent inhibitor of CLN function whose expression is markedly reduced at the time of START. The interplay of all these factors may sharpen the START transition such that it is close to an all-or-nothing switch event. This may be important for several START-dependent events to be activated at the same time, leading to coordinated cell cycle progression.