Spindle pole bodies (SPBs) were isolated from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae by an adaptation of the Kleinschmidt monolayer technique. Spheroplasts prepared from the cells were lysed on an air-water interface. Spread preparations were picked up on grids, transferred to experimental test solutions, and prepared for whole-mount electron microscopy. Using purified exogenous tubulin from porcine brain tissue, the isolated SPBs were shown to nucleate the assembly of microtubules in vitro. Microtubule growth was directional and primarily onto the intranuclear face of the SPB. Neither the morphology nor the microtubule-initiating capacity of the SPB was affected by treatment with the enzymes DNase, RNase, or phospholipase although both properties were sensitive to trypsin. Analysis of SPBs at various stages of the cell cycle showed that newly replicated SPBs had the capacity to nucleate microtubules. SPBs isolated from exponentially growing cells initiated a subset of the yeast spindle microtubules equivalent to the number of pole-to-pole microtubules seen in vivo. However, SPBs isolated from cells in stationary phase and therefore arrested in G1 nucleated a number of microtubules equal to the total chromosomal and pole-to-pole tubules in the yeast spindle. This may mean that in G1-arrested cells, the SPB is associated with microtubule attachment sites of the yeast chromatin.