Early mitotic inhibitor 1 (Emi1) inhibits the activity of the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C), which is a multisubunit ubiquitin ligase that targets mitotic regulators for degradation in exit from mitosis. Levels of Emi1 oscillate in the cell cycle: it accumulates in the S phase and is rapidly degraded in prometaphase. The degradation of Emi1 in early mitosis is necessary for the activation of APC/C in late mitosis. Previous studies have shown that Emi1 is targeted for degradation in mitosis by a Skp1-Cullin1 F-box protein (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex that contains the F-box protein beta-TrCP. As with other substrates of SCF(beta-TrCP), the phosphorylation of Emi1 on a DSGxxS sequence is required for this process. However, the protein kinase(s) involved has not been identified. We find that Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), a protein kinase that accumulates in mitosis, markedly stimulates the ligation of Emi1 to ubiquitin by purified SCF(beta-TrCP). Cdk1-cyclin B, another major mitotic protein kinase, has no influence on this process by itself but stimulates the action of Plk1 at low, physiological concentrations. Plk1 phosphorylates serine residues in the DSGxxS sequence of Emi1, as suggested by the reduced phosphorylation of a derivative in which the two serines were mutated to nonphosphorylatable amino acids. Transfection with an small interfering RNA duplex directed against Plk1 caused the accumulation of Emi1 in mitotically arrested HeLa cells. It is suggested that phosphorylation of Emi1 by Plk1 is involved in its degradation in mitosis.