The accurate segregation of chromosomes at mitosis requires that all pairs of chromatids bind correctly to microtubules prior to the dissolution of sister cohesion and the initiation of anaphase. By analyzing the motion of GFP-tagged S. cerevisiae chromosomes, we show that kinetochore-microtubule attachments impose sufficient tension on sisters during prometaphase to transiently separate centromeric chromatin toward opposite sides of the spindle. Transient separations of 2-10 min duration occur in the absence of cohesin proteolysis, are characterized by independent motion of the sisters along the spindle, and are followed by the apparent reestablishment of sister linkages. The existence of transient sister separation in yeast explains the unusual bilobed localization of kinetochore proteins and supports an alternative model for spindle structure. By analogy with animal cells, we propose that yeast centromeric chromatin acts as a tensiometer.