The ATPase ISWI is a subunit of several distinct nucleosome remodeling complexes that increase the accessibility of DNA in chromatin. We found that the isolated ISWI protein itself was able to carry out nucleosome remodeling, nucleosome rearrangement, and chromatin assembly reactions. The ATPase activity of ISWI was stimulated by nucleosomes but not by free DNA or free histones, indicating that ISWI recognizes a specific structural feature of nucleosomes. Nucleosome remodeling, therefore, does not require a functional interaction between ISWI and the other subunits of ISWI complexes. The role of proteins associated with ISWI may be to regulate the activity of the remodeling engine or to define the physiological context within which a nucleosome remodeling reaction occurs.