We show that female sterile mutations of aurora (aur) are allelic to mutations in the lethal complementation group ck10. This lies in a cytogenetic interval, 87A7-A9, that contains eight transcription units. A 250 bp region upstream of both aur and a divergent transcription unit corresponds to the site of a specific chromatin structure (scs') previously proposed to be a barrier to insulate enhancers of the major hsp70 gene at 87A7. Syncytial embryos derived from aur mothers display closely paired centrosomes at inappropriate mitotic stages and develop interconnected spindles in which the poles are shared. Amorphic alleles result in pupal lethality and in mitotic arrest in which condensed chromosomes are arranged on circular monopolar spindles. The size of the single centrosomal body in these circular figures suggests that loss of function of the serine-threonine protein kinase encoded by aur leads to a failure of the centrosomes to separate and form a bipolar spindle.