The ATPase ISWI is the molecular motor of several remodeling factors that trigger nucleosome sliding in vitro. In search for the underlying mechanism, we found that unilateral binding of ISWI to a model nucleosome correlated with directional movement of the nucleosome toward the enzyme. It has been proposed that ISWI might loosen histone-DNA interactions through twisting DNA. However, nucleosome sliding assays on nicked DNA substrates suggest that propagation of altered twist is not involved. Surprisingly, nicks in the linker DNA in front of the nucleosome facilitate sliding. These data suggest that the rate of nucleosome sliding is limited by a conformational change other than twisting, such as the formation of a short loop, of DNA at the entry into the nucleosome.