To identify mutations that cause defects in mitosis, a collection of mutants in Saccharomyces cerevisiae was screened by a rapid visual assay for abnormal chromosome segregation. From this screen we identified one mutation, pds1-1 that was independently identified in an alternative screen for mutants that exhibit inviability after transient exposure to nocodazole and precocious disassociation of sister chromatids (Guacci, V., A. Yamamoto, A. Strunnikov, J. Kingsbury, E. Hogan, P. Meluh, and D. Koshland. 1993. CSH Symp. Quant. Biol. 58:677- 685; Yamamoto, T.J., G. Li, B. Schaar, I. Szilak, and D.W. Cleveland. 1992. Nature (Lond.). 359:536-539). At 23 degrees C pds1-1 mutants exhibit frequent cell death and a 300-fold increase in chromosome loss compared to wild type. At 37 degrees C pds1-1 cells fail to elongate their spindles during anaphase. This spindle defect of pds1 mutants results from a temperature-sensitive step that occurs around the G1/S boundary about the time of spindle assembly. In the absence of spindle elongation pds1 mutants undergo cytokinesis, leading to the missegregation of both chromosomes and spindle pole bodies. After abnormal cell division pds1-1 mutants also initiate new rounds of DNA replication, spindle pole body duplication, and bud formation. Thus, in the pds1-1 mutant at 37 degrees C, cell cycle progression is uncoupled from the completion of anaphase. A pds1 deletion allele has similar phenotypes to the original allele. Taken together these results suggest that Pds1 protein plays an important role in chromosome segregation at 23 degrees C and an essential role for this process at 37 degrees C. The PDS1 gene encodes a novel 42-kD nuclear protein that has both basic and acidic domains. The level of PDS1 mRNA varies with the cell cycle with maximal accumulation around the G1/S boundary. The stability of Pds1 protein also appears to change during the cell cycle as overproduced Pds1p is stable in S and M but degraded in early G1. Therefore, expression of Pds1p is regulated apparently both transcriptionally and postranslationally during the cell cycle. The phenotypes of pds1 mutants and expression pattern of Pds1p are discussed in the context of other spindle-defective mutants and the knowledge that Pds1 protein is an inhibitor of anaphase (Yamamoto, T.J., G. Li, B. Schaar, I. Szilak, and D.W. Cleveland. 1992. Nature (Lond.). 359:536-539).