The proliferation-associated nuclear protein pKi-67 relocates from the nucleolus to the chromosome surface during the G2/M transition of the cell cycle and contributes to the formation of the 'perichromosomal layer'. We investigated the in-vivo binding preferences of pKi-67 for various chromatin blocks of the mitotic chromosomes from the human and two mouse species, Mus musculus and M. caroli. All chromosomes were decorated with pKi-67 but displayed a gap of pKi-67 decoration in the centromere and NOR regions. pKi-67 distribution in a rearranged mouse chromosome showed that the formation of the centromeric gap was controlled by the specific chromatin in that region. While most chromatin served as a substrate for direct or indirect binding of pKi-67, we identified three types of chromatin that bound less or no pKi-67. These were: (1) the centromeric heterochromatin defined by the alpha satellite DNA in the human, by the mouse minor satellite in M. musculus and the 60- and 79-bp satellites in M. caroli; (2) the pericentromeric heterochromatin in M. musculus defined by the mouse major satellite, and (3) NORs in the human and in M. musculus defined by rDNA repeats. In contrast, the conspicuous blocks of pericentromeric heterochromatin in human chromosomes 1, 9 and 16 containing the 5-bp satellite showed intense pKi-67 decoration. The centromeric gap may have a biological significance for the proper attachment of the chromosomes to the mitotic spindle. In this context, our results suggest a new role for centromeric heterochromatin: the control of the centromeric gap in the perichromosomal layer.