The signals directing primordial germ cell (PGC) migration in vertebrates are largely unknown. We demonstrate that sdf-1 mRNA is expressed in locations where PGCs are found and toward which they migrate in wild-type as well as in mutant embryos in which PGC migration is abnormal. Knocking down SDF-1 or its receptor CXCR4 results in severe defects in PGC migration. Specifically, PGCs that do not receive the SDF-1 signal exhibit lack of directional movement toward their target and arrive at ectopic positions within the embryo. Finally, we show that the PGCs can be attracted toward an ectopic source of the chemokine, strongly suggesting that this molecule provides a key directional cue for the PGCs.