Using Chinese hamster cells in culture, we have measured the effectiveness of actinomycin D to suppress division as a function of the position, or age, of a cell in its growth cycle. Cells were first exposed to millimolar concentrations of hydroxyurea in order to produce a synchronized population just before the onset of DNA synthesis. Thereafter, the survival response after 30 min exposures to actinomycin D was measured. Cells become resistant as they enter the S phase and then sensitive again in the latter part of S. When they reach G2 (or G2-mitosis) they are maximally resistant; at 1.0 µg/ml, for example, the survival in G2 is 30-fold greater than it is in G1. These results, plus measurements reported earlier on the interaction of damage in S cells due to actinomycin D and X-irradiation, suggest that the age-response pattern of the toxic effects of this drug probably reflects both the functional capacity of DNA-actinomycin complexes and the ability of this antibiotic to penetrate chromatin and bind to DNA.

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