Complex behavior requires the coordinated action of the nervous system and nonneuronal targets. Male mating in Caenorhabditis elegans consists of a series of defined behavioral steps that lead to the physiological outcomes required for successful impregnation. We demonstrate that signaling mediated by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)) is required at several points during mating. Disruption of IP(3) receptor (itr-1) function results in dramatic loss of male fertility, due to defects in turning behavior (during vulva location), spicule insertion and sperm transfer. To elucidate the signaling pathways responsible, we knocked down the six C. elegans genes encoding phospholipase C (PLC) family members. egl-8, which encodes PLC-beta, functions in spicule insertion and sperm transfer. itr-1 and egl-8 are widely expressed in the male reproductive system. An itr-1 gain-of-function mutation rescues infertility caused by egl-8 RNA interference, indicating that egl-8 and itr-1 function together as central components of the signaling events controlling sperm transfer.