To identify novel proteins regulating the microtubule cytoskeleton, we screened a library of purine derivatives using mitotic spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts as an assay. Out of a collection of 1561 compounds, we identified 15 that destabilized microtubules without targeting tubulin directly, resulting in small spindles. Affinity chromatography with one compound, named diminutol, revealed a potential target as NQO1, an NADP-dependent oxidoreductase. A role for NQO1 in influencing microtubule polymerization was confirmed through inhibition studies using known inhibitors and immunodepletion. Therefore, this chemical approach has identified a novel factor required for microtubule morphogenesis and cell division.