ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling enzymes act to alter chromatin structure during gene regulation. Studies of the ATPase motors that drive these enzymes support the notion that they function as ATP-dependent DNA translocases with limited processivity. The action of these enzymes on nucleosomes results in the alteration of nucleosome positioning and structure. Recent studies have shown that ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling can also either remove or exchange histone dimers between nucleosomes. This provides a new means by which the incorporation of histone variants can be directed. Additional observations support roles for ATP-dependent remodelling enzymes throughout the transcription cycle.