Procaryotic and eucaryotic cells possess mechanisms for arresting cell division in response to DNA damage. Eucaryotic cells arrest division in the G2 stage of the cell cycle, and various observations suggest that this arrest is necessary to ensure the completion of repair of damaged DNA before the entry of cells into mitosis. Here, we provide evidence that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae RAD9 gene, mutations of which confer sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, is necessary for the cell cycle arrest phenomenon. Our studies with the rad9 delta mutation show that RAD9 plays a role in the cell cycle arrest of methyl methanesulfonate-treated cells and is absolutely required for the cell cycle arrest in the temperature-sensitive cdc9 mutant, which is defective in DNA ligase. At the restrictive temperature, cell cycle progression of cdc9 cells is blocked sometime after the DNA chain elongation step, whereas cdc9 rad9 delta cells do not arrest at this point and undergo one or two additional divisions. Upon transfer from the restrictive to the permissive temperature, a larger proportion of the cdc9 cells than of the cdc9 rad9 delta cells forms viable colonies, indicating that RAD9-mediated cell cycle arrest allows for proper ligation of DNA breaks before the entry of cells into mitosis. The rad9 delta mutation does not affect the frequency of spontaneous or UV-induced mutation and recombination, suggesting that RAD9 is not directly involved in mutagenic or recombinational repair processes. The RAD9 gene encodes a transcript of approximately 4.2 kilobases and a protein of 1,309 amino acids of Mr 148,412. We suggest that RAD9 may be involved in regulating the expression of genes required for the transition from G2 to mitosis.