Sister-chromatid cohesion is essential for accurate chromosome segregation. A key discovery towards our understanding of sister-chromatid cohesion was made 10 years ago with the identification of cohesins. Since then, cohesins have been shown to be involved in cohesion in numerous organisms, from yeast to mammals. Studies of the composition, regulation and structure of the cohesin complex led to a model in which cohesin loading during S-phase establishes cohesion, and cohesin cleavage at the onset of anaphase allows sister-chromatid separation. However, recent studies have revealed activities that provide cohesion in the absence of cohesin. Here we review these advances and propose an integrative model in which chromatid cohesion is a result of the combined activities of multiple cohesion mechanisms.