THE division cycle of eukaryotic cells is regulated by a family of protein kinases known as the cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs)1,2. The sequential activation of individual members of this family and their consequent phosphorylation of critical substrates promotes orderly progression through the cell cycle3,4. The complexes formed by CDK4 and the D-type cyclins have been strongly implicated in the control of cell proliferation during the G1 phase3-6. CDK4 exists, in part, as a multi-protein complex with a D-type cyclin, proliferating cell nuclear antigen and a protein, p21 (refs 7-9). CDK4 associates separately with a protein of M r 16K, particularly in cells lacking a functional retinoblastoma protein9. Here we report the isolation of a human p16 complementary DNA and demonstrate that p16 binds to CDK4 and inhibits the catalytic activity of the CDK4/cyclin D enzymes. p16 seems to act in a regulatory feedback circuit with CDK4, D-type cyclins and retinoblastoma protein.