Histone deacetylase inhibitors exhibit pleiotropic effects on cell functions, both in vivo and in vitro. One of the more dramatic effects of these drugs is their ability to disrupt normal mitotic division, which is a significant contributor to the anticancer properties of these drugs. The most important feature of the disrupted mitosis is that drug treatment overcomes the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint and drives mitotic slippage, but in a manner that triggers apoptosis. The mechanism by which histone deacetylase inhibitors affect mitosis is now becoming clearer through the identification of a number of chromatin and nonchromatin protein targets that are critical to the regulation of normal mitotic progression and cell division. These proteins are directly regulated by acetylation and deacetylation, or in some cases indirectly through the acetylation of essential partner proteins. There appears to be little contribution from deacetylase inhibitor-induced transcriptional changes to the mitotic effects of these drugs. The overall mitotic phenotype of drug treatment appears to be the sum of these disrupted mechanisms.