The cell cycle is the series of molecular events that allows cells to duplicate and segregate their chromosomes to form new cells. The finding that a protein kinase, the product of the yeast cdc2 gene, was fundamental in the regulation of the G2/M and G1/S transitions, associated with unstable proteins named cyclins, opened a very exciting and dynamic research area. The number of gene products that participate in the development and regulation of the cell cycle may be in the hundreds, and there is a high degree of conservation in protein sequences and regulatory pathways among eukaryotes. Although there are clear differences between plants and animals in cell structure, organization, growth, development and differentiation, the same types of proteins and very similar regulatory pathways seem to exist. Seed germination appears to be an excellent model system for studying the cell cycle in plants. Imbibition will reactivate meristematic cells – most initially with a G1 DNA content – into the cell cycle in preparation for seedling establishment. Early events include a thorough survey of DNA status, since the drying process and seed storage conditions reduce chromosomal integrity. The initiation of cell cycle events leading to G1 and S phases, and of the germination process itself, may depend on a G1 checkpoint control. Most, if not all, cell cycle proteins appear to be already present in unimbibed embryos, although there is evidence of protein turnover in the early hours, suggesting the need for de novo protein synthesis. Regulation also may occur at the level of protein modification, because existing G1, S and G2 cell cycle proteins appear to be activated at precise times during germination. Thus, cell cycle control during seed germination may be exerted at multiple levels; however, knowledge of cell cycle events and their importance for germination is still scarce and fragmentary, and different species may have developed unique control mechanisms, more suited to specific germination characteristics and habitat.