To investigate Lim1 function during gastrulation, we used transcript depletion through DEED antisense oligonucleotides in Xenopus and cell transplantation in mice. Xenopus embryos depleted of Lim1 lack anterior head structures and fail to form a proper axis as a result of a failure of gastrulation movements, even though mesodermal cell identities are specified. Similar disruption of cell movements in the mesoderm is also observed in Lim1(-/-) mice. Paraxial protocadherin (PAPC) expression is lost in the nascent mesoderm of Lim1(-/-) mouse embryos and in the organizer of Lim1-depleted Xenopus embryos; the latter can be rescued to a considerable extent by supplying PAPC exogenously. We conclude that a primary function of Lim1 in the early embryo is to enable proper cell movements during gastrulation.