lin-4 encodes a small RNA that is complementary to sequences in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of lin-14 mRNA and that acts to developmentally repress the accumulation of LIN-14 protein. This repression is essential for the proper timing of numerous events of Caenorhabditis elegans larval development. We have investigated the mechanism of lin-4 RNA action by examining the fate of lin-14 mRNA in vivo during the time that lin-4 RNA is expressed. Our results indicate that the rate of synthesis of lin-14 mRNA, its state of polyadenylation, its abundance in the cytoplasmic fraction, and its polysomal sedimentation profile do not change in response to the accumulation of lin-4 RNA. Our results indicate that association of lin-4 RNA with the 3' UTR of lin-14 mRNA permits normal biogenesis of lin-14 mRNA, and normal translational initiation, but inhibits step(s) thereafter, such as translational elongation and/or the release of stable LIN-14 protein.