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Using immunodepletion of cyclin E and the inhibitor protein p21WAF/CIP1, we demonstrate that the cyclin E protein, in association with Cdk2, is required for the elongation phase of replication on single-stranded substrates. Although cyclin E/Cdk2 is likely to be the major target by which p21 inhibits the initiation of sperm DNA replication, p21 can inhibit single-stranded replication through a mechanism dependent on PCNA. While the cyclin E/Cdk2 complex appears to have a role in the initiation of DNA replication, another Cdk kinase, possibly cyclin A/Cdk, may be involved in a later step controlling the switch from initiation to elongation. The provision of a large maternal pool of cyclin E protein shows that regulators of replication are constitutively present, which explains the lack of a protein synthesis requirement for replication in the early embryonic cell cycle.