Cyclin D1 is a known oncogene and a key regulator of cell cycle progression. Amplification of the cyclin D1 gene and its overexpression have been associated with aggressive forms of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, two independent lines of transgenic mice have been generated that express cyclin D1 under the control of the rat liver fatty acid binding protein promoter. This transgene specifically directs expression in the liver and the intestines. RNA and protein analysis demonstrated increased expression of the cyclin D1 gene product in the liver and bowel when compared with wild-type siblings. Both transgenic lines developed progressive liver disease. Examination of H&E stained sections of the liver and bowel revealed hyperplastic changes in the liver by 3 months of age. By 6 months of age, transgenic mice had obvious hepatomegaly and histological evidence of dysplasia in the liver. These early changes were significantly more dramatic in male animals when compared with female animals. By 9 months of age adenomas of the liver appeared, progressing to HCC over the ensuing 6-month period. By 15-17 months of age, 87% of male and 69% of female animals had either adenomatous nodules or HCCs. By 17 months of age, 31% of male and female animals had disease that had progressed to HCC. These animals represent a unique and significant new model for the study of human HCC. This study demonstrates that overexpression of cyclin D1 is sufficient to initiate hepatocellular carcinogenesis.