Survivin is an inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) that is markedly overexpressed in most cancers. We identified two novel functionally divergent splice variants, i.e. non-antiapoptotic survivin-2B and antiapoptotic survivin-deltaEx3. Because survivin-2B might be a naturally occurring antagonist of antiapoptotic survivin variants, we analyzed the subcellular distribution of these proteins. PSORT II analysis predicted a preferential cytoplasmic localization of survivin and survivin-2B, but a preferential nuclear localization of survivin-deltaEx3. GFP-tagged survivin variants confirmed the predicted subcellular localization and additionally revealed a cell cycle-dependent nuclear accumulation of survivin-deltaEx3. Moreover, a bipartite nuclear localization signal found exclusively in survivin-deltaEx3 may support cytoplasmic clearance of survivin-deltaEx3. In contrast to the known association between survivin and microtubules or centromeres during mitosis, no corresponding co-localization became evident for survivin-deltaEx3 or survivin-2B. In conclusion, our study provided data on a differential subcellular localization of functionally divergent survivin variants, suggesting that survivin isoforms may perform different functions in distinct subcellular compartments and distinct phases of the cell cycle.