We investigated the control of proliferation and differentiation in the larval Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite germ line through analysis of glp-1 and lag-2 mutants, cell ablations, and ultrastructural data. After the first several rounds of germ cell division, GLP-1, a receptor of the LIN-12/Notch family, governs germline proliferation. We analyzed the proximal proliferation (Pro) phenotype in glp-1(ar202) and found that initial meiosis was delayed and spatially mispositioned. This is due, at least in part, to a heightened response of the mutant GLP-1 receptor to multiple sources of the somatic ligand LAG-2, including the proximal somatic gonad. We investigated whether proximal LAG-2 affects germline proliferation in the wild type. Our results indicate that (1) LAG-2 is necessary for GLP-1-mediated germline proliferation and prevention of early meiosis, and (2) several distinct anatomical sources of LAG-2 in the larval somatic gonad functionally overlap to promote proliferation and prevent early meiosis. Ultrastructural studies suggest that mitosis is not restricted to areas of direct DTC-germ line contact and that the germ line shares a common cytoplasm in larval stages. We propose that downregulation of the GLP-1 signaling pathway in the proximal germ line at the time of meiotic onset is under tight temporal and spatial control.