The condensin complex has been implicated in the higher-order organization of mitotic chromosomes in a host of model eukaryotes from yeasts to flies and vertebrates. Although chromosomes paradoxically appear to condense in condensin mutants, chromatids are not properly resolved, resulting in chromosome segregation defects during anaphase. We have examined the role of different condensin complex components in interphase chromatin function by examining the effects of various condensin mutations on position-effect variegation in Drosophila melanogaster. Surprisingly, most mutations affecting condensin proteins were often found to result in strong enhancement of variegation in contrast to what might be expected for proteins believed to compact the genome. This suggests either that the role of condensin proteins in interphase differs from their expected role in mitosis or that the way we envision condensin's activity needs to be modified to accommodate alternative possibilities.