Post-transcriptional gene processing by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) has crucial roles during development  . Here, we report the identification of ETR-1 (ELAV-type RNA-binding protein), a muscle-specific RBP in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. ETR-1 is related to the family of RBPs defined by the protein ELAV, which is essential for neurogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila; members of the family possess two consecutive RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) separated from a third, carboxy-terminal RRM by a tether region of variable length    . Its closest homologue, CUG-binding protein (CUG-bp), is a human RBP that has been implicated in the disease myotonic dystrophy and binds CUG repeats in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of the mRNA for myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK)  . Inactivation of etr-1 by RNA-mediated interference resulted in embryonic lethality. Embryos failed to elongate and became paralysed, a phenotype characteristic of C. elegans Pat mutants, which are defective in muscle formation and function . The data indicate that etr-1 is essential for muscle development in C. elegans, perhaps by playing a role in post-transcriptional processing of some muscle component, and thus suggesting a possible conservation of gene function with human CUG-bp.