We isolated a cDNA clone encoding a kinesin-related protein, which we named XKCM1. Antibodies to XKCM1 stain mitotic centromeres and spindle poles. Immunodepletion and antibody addition experiments in an in vitro spindle assembly assay show that XKCM1 is required for both establishment and maintenance of mitotic spindles. The structures that form in the absence of XKCM1 contain abnormally long microtubules. This long microtubule defect can be rescued by the addition of purified XKCM1 protein. Analysis of microtubule dynamics in a clarified mitotic extract reveals that loss of XKCM1 function causes a 4-fold suppression in the catastrophe frequency. XKCM1 thus exhibits a novel activity for a kinesin-related protein by promoting microtubule depolymerization during mitotic spindle assembly.