The induction of premature mitosis by okadaic acid (OA) in HeLa cells in S-phase or in G2-phase has been studied using light microscopy, immunofluorescence, and immunochemical techniques. The observations indicate an involvement of a cdc2-independent pathway in these cells. It has been claimed that inhibition of an OA-sensitive phosphatase, possibly of PP1, induces activation of a kinase which is sensitive to staurosporine and Zn2+. This kinase brings about mitosis-specific cytoskeletal rearrangements, chromosome condensation, and nuclear envelope breakdown, inducing a mitosis-like state. However, other mitotic events do not follow. The possibility that this kinase may be a NIMA-like Nek2 kinase is discussed.