In eukaryotes, the microtubule-based spindle drives chromosome segregation. In this issue, Schweizer et al. (2015; J. Cell Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201506107) find that the spindle area is demarcated by a semipermeable organelle barrier. Molecular crowding, which is microtubule independent, causes the enrichment and/or retention of crucial factors in the spindle region. Their results add an important new feature to the models of how this structure assembles and is regulated.