Among cellular kinases, several cell cycle protein kinases play critical roles in mitotic entry and chromosome segregation. Inhibition of these proteins frequently results in dramatic mitotic arrest and subsequent apoptosis. Most drug discovery efforts have been directed against members of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK), Aurora and Polo-like kinase families. Inhibition of these proteins with small molecules has emerged as a powerful research tool and their clinical use is currently being tested in phase I and phase II trials for cancer therapy. New unexplored kinases or new protein domains distinct to the kinase pocket are now being evaluated for the next generation of mitotic drugs. The therapeutic value of inhibiting these kinases will improve with the availability of new specific and potent inhibitors, but it will also rely on a better knowledge of the physiological requirement for these proteins in normal and tumor cell cycles.