Translational control is a prevalent means of gene regulation during Drosophila oogenesis and embryogenesis. Multiple maternal mRNAs are localized within the oocyte, and this localization is often coupled to their translational regulation. Subsequently, translational control allows maternally deposited mRNAs to direct the early stages of embryonic development. In this review we outline some general mechanisms of translational regulation and mRNA localization that have been uncovered in various model systems. Then we focus on the posttranscriptional regulation of four maternal transcripts in Drosophila that are localized during oogenesis and are critical for embryonic patterning: bicoid (bcd), nanos (nos), oskar (osk), and gurken (grk). Cis- and trans-acting factors required for the localization and translational control of these mRNAs are discussed along with potential mechanisms for their regulation.