The mitotic spindle is a self-organizing structure that is constructed primarily from microtubules. Among the most important spindle microtubules are those that bind to kinetochores and form the fibers along which chromosomes move. Chemotherapeutics such as taxol and the vinca alkaloids perturb kinetochore-microtubule attachment and disrupt chromosome segregation. This activates a checkpoint pathway that delays cell cycle progression and induces programmed cell death. Recent work has identified at least four mammalian spindle assembly checkpoint proteins.