Murine B lymphocytes in the presence of antibody specific for surface membrane immunoglobulin begin to synthesize DNA at about the 36th hr of culture, although the onset of synthesis in response to other B cell-reactive mitogens occurs at approximately 18 hr. In contrast, the onset of DNA synthesis by Pronase-treated cells in response to anti-immunoglobulin required only 18 hr. This earlier onset of S phase was not observed when Pronase treatment was performed in the presence of ovalbumin or the protease inhibitors phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride or aprotinin. It is unlikely that simple carryover of Pronase from the treatment procedure to the cell culture process was involved, because Pronase treatment for 1 hr at 3 degrees C rather than at 37 degrees C did not result in early onset of DNA synthesis. Cells treated with Pronase and then with mitomycin C to irreversibly inhibit their capacity to synthesize DNA were incapable of inducing early onset of S phase on co-culture with untreated cells, suggesting that Pronase may act directly on B cells rather than indirectly via other cells in the splenocyte population.