Eukaryotes contain three essential Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) complexes: cohesin, condensin, and Smc5/6. Cohesin forms a ring-shaped structure that embraces sister chromatids to promote their cohesion. The cohesiveness of cohesin is promoted by acetylation of N-terminal lysines of the Smc3 subunit by the acetyltransferases Eco1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the homologue, Eso1, in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In both yeasts, these acetyltransferases are essential for cell viability. However, whereas nonacetylatable Smc3 mutants are lethal in S. cerevisiae, they are not in S. pombe. We show that the lethality of a temperature-sensitive allele of eso1 (eso1-H17) is due to activation of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) and is associated with premature centromere separation. The lack of cohesion at the centromeres does not correlate with Psm3 acetylation or cohesin levels at the centromeres, but is associated ith significantly reduced recruitment of the cohesin regulator Pds5. The SAC activation in this context is dependent on Smc5/6 function, which is required to remove cohesin from chromosome arms but not centromeres. The mitotic defects caused by Smc5/6 and Eso1 dysfunction are cosuppressed in double mutants. This identifies a novel function (or functions) for Eso1 and Smc5/6 at centromeres and extends the functional relationships between these SMC complexes.