gamma-Tubulin is a centrosomal component involved in microtubule nucleation. To determine how this molecule behaves during the cell cycle, we have established several vertebrate somatic cell lines that constitutively express a gamma-tubulin/green fluorescent protein fusion protein. Near simultaneous fluorescence and DIC light microscopy reveals that the amount of gamma-tubulin associated with the centrosome remains relatively constant throughout interphase, suddenly increases during prophase, and then decreases to interphase levels as the cell exits mitosis. This mitosis-specific recruitment of gamma-tubulin does not require microtubules. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) studies reveal that the centrosome possesses two populations of gamma-tubulin: one that turns over rapidly and another that is more tightly bound. The dynamic exchange of centrosome-associated gamma-tubulin occurs throughout the cell cycle, including mitosis, and it does not require microtubules. These data are the first to characterize the dynamics of centrosome-associated gamma-tubulin in vertebrate cells in vivo and to demonstrate the microtubule-independent nature of these dynamics. They reveal that the additional gamma-tubulin required for spindle formation does not accumulate progressively at the centrosome during interphase. Rather, at the onset of mitosis, the centrosome suddenly gains the ability to bind greater than three times the amount of gamma-tubulin than during interphase.