Compartmentalization of the genetic material into a nucleus bounded by a nuclear envelope (NE) is the hallmark of a eukaryotic cell. The control of NE assembly is poorly understood, but in a cell-free system made from Xenopus eggs, NE assembly involves the small GTPase Ran. In this system, Sepharose beads coated with Ran induce the formation of functional NEs in the absence of chromatin. Here, we show that importin-beta, an effector of Ran involved in nucleocytoplasmic transport and mitotic spindle assembly, is required for NE assembly induced by Ran. Concentration of importin-beta on beads is sufficient to induce NE assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. The function of importin-beta in NE assembly is disrupted by a mutation that decreases affinity for nucleoporins containing FxFG repeats. By contrast, a truncated protein that cannot interact with importin-alpha is functional. Thus, importin-beta functions in NE assembly by recruiting FxFG nucleoporins rather than by interaction through importin-alpha with karyophilic proteins carrying classical nuclear localization signals. Importin-beta links NE assembly, mitotic spindle assembly, and nucleocytoplasmic transport to regulation by Ran and may coordinate these processes during cell division.