When chromosomes are aligned and bioriented at metaphase, the elastic stretch of centromeric chromatin opposes pulling forces exerted on sister kinetochores by the mitotic spindle. Here we show that condensin ATPase activity is an important regulator of centromere stiffness and function. Condensin depletion decreases the stiffness of centromeric chromatin by 50% when pulling forces are applied to kinetochores. However, condensin is dispensable for the normal level of compaction (rest length) of centromeres, which probably depends on other factors that control higher-order chromatin folding. Kinetochores also do not require condensin for their structure or motility. Loss of stiffness caused by condensin-depletion produces abnormal uncoordinated sister kinetochore movements, leads to an increase in Mad2(+) kinetochores near the metaphase plate and delays anaphase onset.