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We used gene expression profiling to establish a molecular diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), to elucidate its pathogenesis, and to predict the length of survival of these patients. An MCL gene expression signature defined a large subset of MCLs that expressed cyclin D1 and a novel subset that lacked cyclin D1 expression. A precise measurement of tumor cell proliferation, provided by the expression of proliferation signature genes, identified patient subsets that differed by more than 5 years in median survival. Differences in cyclin D1 mRNA abundance synergized with INK4a/ARF locus deletions to dictate tumor proliferation rate and survival. We propose a quantitative model of the aberrant cell cycle regulation in MCL that provides a rationale for the design of cell cycle inhibitor therapy in this malignancy.