Laminins are components of basement membranes that are required for morphogenesis, organizing cell adhesions and cell signaling. Studies have suggested that laminins function as alpha(x) beta(y) gamma(z) heterotrimers in vivo. In C. elegans, there is only one laminin beta gene, suggesting that it is required for all laminin functions. Our analysis is consistent with the role of the laminin beta as a subunit of laminin heterotrimers; the same cells express the laminin alpha, beta, and gamma subunits, the laminin beta subunit localizes to all basement membranes throughout development, and secretion of the beta subunit requires an alpha subunit. RNAi inhibition of the beta subunit gene or of the other subunit genes causes an embryonic lethality phenotype. Furthermore, a distinctive set of phenotypes is caused by both viable laminin alpha and beta partial loss-of-function mutations. These results show developmental roles for the laminin beta subunit, and they provide further genetic evidence for the importance of heterotrimer assembly in vivo.