Errors in mitosis can provide a source of the genomic instability that is typically associated with tumorigenesis. Many mitotic regulators are aberrantly expressed in tumour cells. These proteins could therefore make useful therapeutic targets. The kinases Aurora-A, -B and -C represent a family of such targets and several small-molecule inhibitors have been shown to block their function. Not only have these inhibitors advanced our understanding of mitosis, but, importantly, their in vivo antitumour activity has recently been reported. What have these studies taught us about the therapeutic potential of inhibiting this family of kinases?