Sister chromatid cohesion is a major feature of the eukaryotic chromosome. It entails the formation of a physical linkage between the two copies of a chromosome that result from the duplication process. This linkage must be maintained until chromosome segregation takes place in order to ensure the accurate distribution of the genomic information. Cohesin, a multiprotein complex conserved from yeast to humans, is largely responsible for sister chromatid cohesion. Other cohesion factors regulate the interaction of cohesin with chromatin as well as the establishment and dissolution of cohesion. In addition, the presence of cohesin throughout the genome appears to influence processes other than chromosome segregation, such as transcription and DNA repair. In this review I summarize recent advances in our understanding of cohesin function and regulation in mitosis, and discuss the consequences of impairing the cohesion process at the level of the whole organism.