A recently emerging protein family, shugoshin, plays a crucial role in the centromeric protection of cohesin, which is responsible for sister chromatid cohesion. This is especially important at the first meiotic division, where cohesin is cleaved by separase only along chromosome arms while the centromeric cohesin must be preserved. In vertebrate cells, arm cohesion is largely lost during prophase and prometaphase in order to facilitate sister chromatid resolution, whereas centromeric cohesion is preserved until the bipolar attachment of sister chromatids is established. Vertebrate shugoshin plays an essential role in protecting centromeric cohesin from prophase dissociation. In yeast, shugoshin also has a crucial role in sensing the loss of tension at kinetochores and in generating the spindle checkpoint signal.