To determine whether regulation of c-myc proteins occurs during the differentiation of murine erythroleukemia cells, we examined c-myc protein synthesis and accumulation throughout dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)- or hypoxanthine-induced differentiation. c-myc protein expression exhibited an overall biphasic reduction, with an initial concomitant decrease in c-myc RNA, protein synthesis, and protein accumulation early during the commitment phase. However, as the mRNA and protein levels recovered, c-myc protein synthesis levels dissociated from the levels of c-myc mRNA and protein accumulation. This dissociation appears to result from unusual translational and posttranslational regulation during differentiation. Translational enhancement was suggested by the observation that relatively high levels of c-myc proteins were synthesized from relatively moderate levels of c-myc RNA. This translational enhancement was not observed with c-myb. Under certain culture conditions, we also observed a change in the relative synthesis ratio of the two independently initiated c-myc proteins. Posttranslational regulation was evidenced by a dramatic postcommitment decrease in the accumulated c-myc protein levels despite relatively high levels of c-myc protein synthesis. This decrease corresponded with a twofold increase in the turnover of c-myc proteins. The consequence of this regulation was that the most substantial decrease in c-myc protein accumulation occurred during the postcommitment phase of differentiation. This result supports the hypothesis that the reduction in c-myc at relatively late times is most important for completion of murine erythroleukemia cell terminal differentiation.