Attachment, or cohesion, between sister chromatids is essential for their proper segregation in mitosis and meiosis [1,2]. Sister chromatids are tightly apposed at their centromeric regions, but it is not known whether this is due to cohesion at the functional centromere or at flanking centric heterochromatin. The Drosophila MEI-S332 protein maintains sister-chromatid cohesion at the centromeric region . By analyzing MEI-S332's localization requirements at the centromere on a set of minichromosome derivatives , we tested the role of heterochromatin and the relationship between cohesion and kinetochore formation in a complex centromere of a higher eukaryote. The frequency of MEI-S332 localization is decreased on minichromosomes with compromised inheritance, despite the consistent presence of two kinetochore proteins. Furthermore, MEI-S332 localization is not coincident with kinetochore outer-plate proteins, suggesting that it is located near the DNA. We conclude that MEI-S332 localization is driven by the functional centromeric chromatin, and binding of MEI-S332 is regulated independently of kinetochore formation. These results suggest that in higher eukaryotes cohesion is controlled by the functional centromere, and that, in contrast to yeast , the requirements for cohesion are separable from those for kinetochore assembly.