Results of comprehensive particle image velocimetry measurements investigating the dynamics of turbulent jets in a rotating fluid are presented. It is observed that background system rotation induces a time-periodic formation–breakdown cycle of the jets. The flow dynamics associated with this process is studied in detail. It is found that the frequency of the cycle increases linearly with the background rotation rate. The data show that the onset of the breakdown phase and of the reformation phase of the cycle can be characterized in terms of a local Rossby number employing an internal velocity and a length scale of the jet. The critical values for this local Rossby number, for onset of breakdown and reformation, scale linearly with a global Rossby number based on the flow conditions at the source. The analysis of the experimental data suggests centrifugal instability as the potential origin of the formation–breakdown cycle.