Translational control plays a large role in vertebrate oocyte maturation and contributes to the induction of the germ layers. Translational regulation is also observed in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. The features of an mRNA that mediate translational control are found both in the 5' and in the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs). In the 5' UTR, secondary structure, the binding of proteins, and the presence of upstream open reading frames can interfere with the association of initiation factors with the cap, or with scanning of the initiation complex. The 3' UTR can mediate translational activation by directing cytoplasmic polyadenylation and can confer translational repression by interference with the assembly of initiation complexes. Besides mRNA-specific translational control elements, the nonspecific RNA-binding proteins contribute to the modulation of translation in development. This review discusses examples of translational control and their relevance for developmental regulation.