Mammalian aurora-A belongs to a multigenic family of mitotic serine/threonine kinases comprising two other members: aurora-B and aurora-C. In this review we will focus on aurora-A that starts to localize to centrosomes only in S phase as soon as centrioles have been duplicated, the protein is then degraded in early G1. Works in various organisms have revealed that the kinase is involved in centrosome separation, duplication and maturation as well as in bipolar spindle assembly and stability. Aurora kinases are found in all organisms in which their function has been conserved throughout evolution, namely the control of chromosome segregation. In human, aurora-A has focused a lot of attention, since its overexpression has been found to be correlated with the grade of various solid tumours. Ectopic kinase overexpression in any culture cell line leads to polyploidy and centrosome amplification. However, overexpression of aurora-A in particular cell lines such as NIH3T3 is sufficient to induce growth on soft agar. Those transformed cells form tumours when implanted in immunodeficient mice, indicating that the kinase is an oncogene.