Background. Bub1 is a component of the spindle assembly checkpoint, a surveillance mechanism that maintains chromosome stability during M-phase. Bub1 is essential during the early stages of embryogenesis, with homozygous BUB1-null mice dying shortly after day E3.5. Bub1 is also required later during embryogenesis; inactivation of BUB1 on day E10.5 appears to rapidly block all further development. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for this phenotype remain unclear. Findings. Here we show that inactivating BUB1 on day E10.5 stalls embryogenesis within 48 hours. This is accompanied by a global shutdown of proliferation, widespread apoptosis and haemorrhaging. Conclusion. Our results suggest that Bub1 is required throughout the developing embryo for cellular proliferation. Therefore, Bub1 has been shown to be essential in all scenarios analyzed thus far in mice: proliferation of cultured fibroblasts, spermatogenesis, oogenesis and both early and late embryonic development. This likely reflects the fact that Bub1 has dual functions during mitosis, being required for both SAC function and chromosome alignment. © 2009 Taylor et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.