Survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family, is detected in most common human cancers but not in adjacent normal cells. Previous studies suggest that survivin associates with the mitotic spindle and directly inhibits caspase activity. To further investigate the function of survivin, we used a survivin antisense (AS) oligonucleotide to downregulate survivin expression in normal and cancer cells. We found that inhibition of survivin expression increased apoptosis and polyploidy while decreasing colony formation in soft agar. Immunohistochemistry showed that cells without survivin can initiate the cleavage furrow and contractile ring, but cannot complete cytokinesis, thus resulting in multinucleated cells. These findings indicate that survivin plays important roles in a late stage of cytokinesis, as well as in apoptosis.