Specialised subapical junctions play a critical role in maintaining epithelial cell polarity and tissue integrity, and provide a platform for intracellular signalling. Here we analyse the roles of C. elegans genes let-413 and dlg-1, a homologue of Drosophila lethal discs large, in the assembly of the C. elegans apical junction (CeAJ), and provide the first characterisation of this structure. We have identified dlg-1 as an essential gene in an RNA interference screen against C. elegans homologues of genes encoding proteins involved in tight or septate junction formation. We show that DLG-1 colocalises with the junctional protein JAM-1 at CeAJs in a unit distinct from HMP-1/alpha-catenin, and apical to the laterally localised LET-413. Loss of dlg-1 activity leads to JAM-1 mislocalisation and the disappearance of the electron-dense component of the CeAJs, but only mild adhesion and polarity defects. In contrast, loss of let-413 activity leads to the formation of basally extended discontinuous CeAJs and strong adhesion and polarity defects. Interestingly, in LET-413-deficient embryos, CeAJ markers are localised along the lateral membrane in a manner resembling that observed in wild-type embryos at the onset of epithelial differentiation. We conclude that the primary function of LET-413 is to correctly position CeAJ components at a discrete subapical position. Furthermore, we propose that DLG-1 is required to aggregate JAM-1 and other proteins forming the electron-dense CeAJ structure. Our data suggest that epithelial adhesion is maintained by several redundant systems in C. elegans.