14-3-3 proteins are crucial in a wide variety of cellular responses including cell cycle progression, DNA damage checkpoints and apoptosis. One particular 14-3-3 isoform, sigma, is a p53-responsive gene, the function of which is frequently lost in human tumours, including breast and prostate cancers as a result of either hypermethylation of the 14-3-3sigma promoter or induction of an oestrogen-responsive ubiquitin ligase that specifically targets 14-3-3sigma for proteasomal degradation. Loss of 14-3-3sigma protein occurs not only within the tumours themselves but also in the surrounding pre-dysplastic tissue (so-called field cancerization), indicating that 14-3-3sigma might have an important tumour suppressor function that becomes lost early in the process of tumour evolution. The molecular basis for the tumour suppressor function of 14-3-3sigma is unknown. Here we report a previously unknown function for 14-3-3sigma as a regulator of mitotic translation through its direct mitosis-specific binding to a variety of translation/initiation factors, including eukaryotic initiation factor 4B in a stoichiometric manner. Cells lacking 14-3-3sigma, in marked contrast to normal cells, cannot suppress cap-dependent translation and do not stimulate cap-independent translation during and immediately after mitosis. This defective switch in the mechanism of translation results in reduced mitotic-specific expression of the endogenous internal ribosomal entry site (IRES)-dependent form of the cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk11 (p58 PITSLRE), leading to impaired cytokinesis, loss of Polo-like kinase-1 at the midbody, and the accumulation of binucleate cells. The aberrant mitotic phenotype of 14-3-3sigma-depleted cells can be rescued by forced expression of p58 PITSLRE or by extinguishing cap-dependent translation and increasing cap-independent translation during mitosis by using rapamycin. Our findings show how aberrant mitotic translation in the absence of 14-3-3sigma impairs mitotic exit to generate binucleate cells and provides a potential explanation of how 14-3-3sigma-deficient cells may progress on the path to aneuploidy and tumorigenesis.