13S condensin is a multisubunit protein complex essential for mitotic chromosome condensation in Xenopus egg extracts. Purified 13S condensin introduces positive supercoils into DNA in the presence of topoisomerase I and adenosine triphosphate in vitro. The supercoiling activity of 13Scondensin was regulated by mitosis-specific phosphorylation. Immunodepletion, in vitro phosphorylation, and peptide-mapping experiments indicated that Cdc2 is likely to be the kinase that phosphorylates and activates 13S condensin. Multiple Cdc2 phosphorylation sites are clustered in the carboxyl-terminal domain of the XCAP-D2 (Xenopus chromosome-associated polypeptide D2) subunit. These results suggest that phosphorylation of 13Scondensin by Cdc2 may trigger mitotic chromosome condensation in vitro.