Purpose of Mitotic Cell Division

By Rebekah Richards
Image of the female chromosome under a microscope.
Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images

Most body cells in a human or animal divide, or reproduce, through mitosis. The stages of mitosis are prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase and telephase. During these stages, a cell duplicates its genetic content and then splits into two identical cells, allowing it to replace dead or dying cells.


Most human cells reproduce through mitosis, such as the cells that make up your hair, fingernails and skin.

Time Frame

Human somatic cells, or body cells, complete mitotic cell division in 30 to 90 minutes, according to Palomar College.


If mitotic cell division is not properly controlled by genes, illnesses such as cancer may develop, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Sex cells, including ova and sperm, reproduce through a different process, called meiosis. Meiosis occurs in the testes in males and in the ovaries in females. Meiosis allows for variation in genetic material, unlike mitosis.

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.