We prove lower bounds on the round complexity of randomized Byzantine agreement (BA) protocols, bounding the halting probability of such protocols after one and two rounds. In particular, we prove that:

(1) BA protocols resilient against $n/3$ [resp., $n/4$] corruptions terminate (under attack) at the end of the first round with probability at most $o(1)$ [resp., $1/2+ o(1)$].

(2) BA protocols resilient against a fraction of corruptions greater than $1/4$ terminate at the end of the second round with probability at most $1-Theta(1)$.

(3) For a large class of protocols (including all BA protocols used in practice) and under a plausible combinatorial conjecture, BA protocols resilient against a fraction of corruptions greater than $1/3$ [resp., $1/4$] terminate at the end of the second round with probability at most $o(1)$ [resp., $1/2 + o(1)$].

The above bounds hold even when the parties use a trusted setup phase, e.g., a public-key infrastructure (PKI).

The third bound essentially matches the recent protocol of Micali (ITCS’17) that tolerates up to $n/3$ corruptions and terminates at the end of the third round with constant probability.

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