Both growth-factor deprivation and contact inhibition suppress cell growth; however, the mechanisms by which they inhibit cell proliferation may not be identical. The function of antiproliferative genes and the induction of programmed cell death are among the potential differences between these growth-arrest mechanisms. Specifically, an inverse relation between the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CDKIs) and the susceptibility to apoptosis has been reported. To test this relation, we examined the features of growth arrest in a canine melanoma cell line, TLM1. Both contact inhibition and serum deprivation halted cell-cycle progression of TLM1 cells in the G1 phase. Prolonged growth arrest of the cells without restimulation resulted in apoptosis; conversely, the cells reentered the cell cycle after release from contact inhibition or on restimulation with serum. Cell-to-cell contact, but not serum deprivation, led to the expression of p53 and p21/Waf-1. The expression of p21/Waf-1 did not prevent apoptosis. Moreover, the ectopic overexpression of CDKIs increased apoptosis. These results support the premise that growth arrest induced by contact inhibition and serum deprivation are mediated through distinct mechanisms. Furthermore, CDKIs are not universal inhibitors of apoptosis, and in some cases, they may initiate or enhance the apoptotic program.