The effect of serum and temperature elevation on proliferation has been studied in synchronized mouse neuroblastoma (Neuro-2A) cells. The effects of serum were studied on the induction of (a) mitotic delay due to a non-lethal heat treatment (30 min at 42·7°C) and (b) the loss of colony-forming capacity after a more extensive heat treatment (45 min at 44°C or a continuous 42·7°C heat treatment). The following results were obtained. Under conditions of serum depletion, cell cycle extension of heated G1 phase cells was more than that of heated G2 phase cells. Serum protected against heat-induced alterations of cell cycle progression in G1-but not in G2 phase cells. This effect of serum could be mimicked by a supplement to the medium of human transferrin, bovine pancreas insulin and selenium, and was correlated with protection of protein synthesis. Serum also affected heat-induced cell killing. Under conditions of serum depletion, G1 phase cells were more resistant to heat compared to G2 cells. The presence of serum during heat treatment further increased the thermoresistance of G1 phase cells, but did not affect sensitivity of G2 phase cells. This effect of serum could not be mimicked by a supplement of transferrin, insulin and selenium. These results indicate that serum protects G1 phase cells for heat-induced changes of cell cycle progression as well as on cell survival, but the mechanisms involved in both phenomena seem to be different.