Mitosis and meiosis both represent cell division that occur in humans and other animals. These cell division processes share many aspects, including the production of new cells and replication of genetic material. But they also have differences in the way they make new cells with different goals and slightly different outcomes.
Mitosis Cell Division
Mitosis is the method by which cells split in half to produce two new cells, identical to the parent cell. All of the genetic material of the parent is first doubled, so that in humans, for example, each child cell gets a full set of the 46 chromosomes the parent had. Mitosis takes place throughout the human body; it is the normal process of cell replication, used for growth and repair.
Meiosis Cell Reproduction
Meiosis is a special type of cell division that applies only to sex cells. During meiosis, the child cells only receive half of the chromosomes that the parent had. For example, in humans, sperm cells and egg cells only have 23 chromosomes each. When two of these cells unite during conception, the resulting zygote will once again have 46 total chromosomes -- half from the mother and half from the father.
Similarities Between Them
Mitosis and meiosis are the two ways by which cells reproduce. As a result, they share several steps in their respective processes. Meiosis adds another division and a step that mixes the genetic material from the parent cells, but in both cases the cell must duplicate its DNA, pull it apart into two sets, place the sets on each end of itself, and then divide down the middle. Both mitosis and meiosis produce fresh new cells based on their parent cells' genes.
Differences Between Them
Mitosis produces two cells from one parent using one division event. But meiosis produces four new child cells with two divisions, each of which has half the genetic material of its parent. Mitosis takes place all over the body, while meiosis only takes place in the sex organs and produces sex cells.