Some of the important controlling events regulating eukaryotic S-phase progression are considered to occur late in the G1 stage of the cell cycle. We show here that stimulation of DNA synthesis in bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) by macrophage CSF-1 is preceded by G1 expression of three genes which encode proteins associated with the DNA synthesis machinery--the M1 and M2 subunits of ribonucleotide reductase and proliferating cell nuclear Ag (PCNA). Increased expression for these genes correlated well with the mitogenic response and sustained expression required de novo RNA and protein synthesis and also the presence of CSF-1 for at least most of G1. Inhibitors of BMM proliferation (LPS, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and cAMP elevating agents) suppressed CSF-1-induced expression of M1, M2, and PCNA mRNA measured at 22 h. This suppression occurred even when added up to 12 h after the CSF-1, a period coinciding with the G1/S-phase boundary. The delayed kinetics of this effect parallels the ability of these agents to maximally inhibit CSF-1-induced BMM DNA synthesis when added at similar times. Decreased expression of M1, M2, and PCNA was not merely a consequence of DNA synthesis inhibition because the S-phase inhibitor, hydroxyurea, did not suppress CSF-1-induced gene expression. These results suggest that inhibition of DNA synthesis by antiproliferative agents involves inhibition of expression of several genes associated with the DNA synthesis machinery.