Chromosome condensation is regulated by the condensin complex but whether this process is subject to transcriptional control is poorly understood. In this issue, Schiklenk et al. (2018. J. Cell Biol. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201711097) reveal that the transcription factor Zas1 mediates timely chromosome condensation and promotes transcription of several genes in Saccharomyces pombe, including the condensin subunit Cnd1.