The nuclear lamina is an intermediate filament-type network underlying the inner nuclear membrane. Phosphorylation of lamin proteins is believed to cause lamina disassembly during meiotic and mitotic M phase, but the M phase-specific lamin kinase has not been identified. Here we show that the cdc2 kinase, a major element implicated in controlling the eukaryotic cell cycle, phosphorylates chicken B-type lamins in vitro on sites that are specifically phosphorylated during M phase in vivo. Concomitantly, cdc2 kinase is capable of inducing lamina depolymerization upon incubation with isolated nuclei. One of the target sites of cdc2 kinase is identified as a motif (SPTR) conserved in the N-terminal domain of all lamin proteins. These results lead us to propose that mitotic disassembly of the nuclear lamina results from direct phosphorylation of lamins by cdc2 kinase.