We have raised and characterized antibodies specific for human cyclin B2 and have compared the properties of cyclins B1 and B2 in human tissue culture cells. Cyclin B1 and B2 levels are very low in G1 phase, increase in S and G2 phases and peak at mitosis. Both B-type cyclins associate with p34cdc2; their associated kinase activities appear when cells enter mitosis and disappear as the cyclins are destroyed in anaphase. However, human cyclins B1 and B2 differ dramatically in their subcellular localization. Cyclin B1 co-localizes with microtubules, whereas cyclin B2 is primarily associated with the Golgi region. In contrast to cyclin B1, cyclin B2 does not relocate to the nucleus at prophase, but becomes uniformly distributed throughout the cell. The different subcellular locations of human cyclins B1 and B2 implicate them in the reorganization of different aspects of the cellular architecture at mitosis and indicate that different mitotic cyclin-cyclin-dependent kinase complexes may have distinct roles in the cell cycle.