Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common monogenetic disease predominantly caused by alteration or dysregulation of the PKD1 gene, which encodes polycystin-1 (PC1). The disease is characterized by the progressive expansion of bilateral fluid-filled renal cysts that ultimately lead to renal failure. Individual cysts, even within patients with germline mutations, are genetically heterogeneous, displaying diverse chromosomal abnormalities. To date, the molecular mechanisms responsible for this genetic heterogeneity remain unknown. Using a lentiviral-mediated siRNA expression model of Pkd1 hypomorphism, we show that loss of PC1 function is sufficient to produce centrosome amplification and multipolar spindle formation. These events lead to genomic instability characterized by gross polyploidism and mitotic catastrophe. Following these dramatic early changes, the cell population rapidly converges toward a stable ploidy in which centrosome amplification is significantly decreased, though cytological abnormalities such as micronucleation, chromatin bridges and aneuploidy remain common. In agreement with our in vitro findings, we provide the first in vivo evidence that significant centrosome amplification occurs in kidneys from conditional Pkd1 knockout mice at early and late time during the disease progression as well as in human ADPKD patients. These findings establish a novel function of PC1 in ADPKD pathogenesis and a genetic mechanism that may underlie the intrafamilial variability of ADPKD progression.