The exits from metaphase arrest and anatomy of mitotic catastrophe were studied in two human osteosarcoma cell lines, nontumorigenic HOS TE85 and its chemically transformed strain MNNG-HOS, applying mild genotoxic damage by heat shock at 41.8°C for 24h. Under these conditions, both cell lines doubled or tripled their mitotic index entering arrest in metaphase. On return to 37°C, the arrest was either released or ended in apoptosis. The transformed strain showed a greater capacity to arrest in metaphase as well as a greater probability of developing the third pathway: to restitute this arrest in polyploid interphase. This, in turn, either entered an ‘endocycle’ or, following a delay, apoptosis. Thus, arrest in metaphase was a cross-point of the mitotic cycle, apoptosis, and endocycle. Mitotic catastrophe can morphologically manifest combinations of elements of these three processes.