The Aurora protein kinase family (consisting of Aurora-A, -B and -C) is an important group of enzymes that controls several aspects of cell division in mammalian cells. Dysfunction of these kinases has been associated with a failure to maintain a stable chromosome content, a state that can contribute to tumourigenesis. Additionally, Aurora-A is frequently found amplified in a variety of tumour types and displays oncogenic activity. On the other hand, therapeutic inhibition of these kinases has shown great promise as potential anti-cancer treatment, most likely because of their essential roles during cell division. This review will focus on our present understanding of the different roles played by these kinases, their regulation throughout cell division, their deregulation in human cancers and on the progress that is made in targeting these important regulators in the treatment of cancer.