Mad1 was first identified in budding yeast as an essential component of the checkpoint system that monitors spindle assembly in mitosis and prevents premature anaphase onset. Using antibodies to the human homologue of Mad1 (HsMAD1), we have begun to characterize this protein in mammalian cells. HsMad1 is found localized at kinetochores in mitosis. The labeling is brightest in prometaphase and is absent from kinetochores at metaphase and anaphase. In cells where most chromosomes have reached the metaphase plate, those aligned at the plate show no labeling while remaining, unaligned chromosomes are still brightly labeled. We find HsMad1 associated with HsMad2. Association with p55CDC, a protein previously shown to bind HsMad2, was not detected. Surprisingly, unlike any other known mitotic checkpoint proteins, HsMad1 and HsMAD2 were found localized at nuclear pores throughout interphase. This was confirmed by co-labeling with an antibody to known nuclear pore complex proteins and by their co-purification with enriched nuclear envelope fractions. HsMad1 was identified serendipitously by its binding to a viral protein, HTLV-1 Tax, which affects transcription of viral and human proteins. The localization of HsMad1 to nuclear pore complexes suggests an alternate, non-mitotic role for the Mad1/Tax interaction in the viral transformation of cells.