PLK (STPK13) encodes a murine protein kinase closely related to those encoded by the Drosophila melanogaster polo gene and the Saccharomyces cerevisiae CDC5 gene, which are required for normal mitotic and meiotic divisions. Affinity-purified antibody generated against the C-terminal 13 amino acids of Plk specifically recognizes a single polypeptide of 66 kDa in MELC, NIH 3T3, and HeLa cellular extracts. The expression levels of both poly(A)+ PLK mRNA and its encoded protein are most abundant about 17 h after serum stimulation of NIH 3T3 cells. Plk protein begins to accumulate at the S/G2 boundary and reaches the maximum level at the G2/M boundary in continuously cycling cells. Concurrent with cyclin B-associated cdc2 kinase activity, Plk kinase activity sharply peaks at the onset of mitosis. Plk enzymatic activity gradually decreases as M phase proceeds but persists longer than cyclin B-associated cdc2 kinase activity. Plk is localized to the area surrounding the chromosomes in prometaphase, appears condensed as several discrete bands along the spindle axis at the interzone in anaphase, and finally concentrates at the midbody during telophase and cytokinesis. Plk and CHO1/mitotic kinesin-like protein 1 (MKLP-1), which induces microtubule bundling and antiparallel movement in vitro, are colocalized during late M phase. In addition, CHO1/MKLP-1 appears to interact with Plk in vivo and to be phosphorylated by Plk-associated kinase activity in vitro.