Cytokinesis in eukaryotes involves the regulated assembly and contraction of a ring comprising filamentous (F)-actin and myosin II. Assembly of the contractile ring occurs through the accumulation of cortical cues at the specified division plane, followed by recruitment of F-actin, myosin II and accessory proteins involved in generating the mature ring. Ring contraction is temporally regulated to occur only after chromosome segregation and, in yeast, it is controlled by a conserved signaling cascade that becomes active only after Cdk1-Cyclin-B inactivation. In this article (which is part of the Cytokinesis series), we discuss recent studies that have begun to clarify both the spatial and the temporal order of ring assembly and that have illuminated the signals that trigger ring contraction in yeast. These studies add to the growing knowledge of the processes that control eukaryotic cell division.