C. elegans worms hatching in the absence of food show growth arrest during the first larval stage (L1). While much has been learned about the later diapause, dauer, which worms enter under adverse conditions, much less is known about the mechanisms governing L1 arrest. Here we show that worms lacking activity of the asna-1 gene arrest growth reversibly at the L1 stage even when food is abundant. asna-1 encodes an ATPase that functions nonautonomously to regulate growth. asna-1 is expressed in a restricted set of sensory neurons and in insulin-producing intestinal cells. asna-1 mutants are reduced in insulin secretion while overexpression of asna-1 mimics the effects of insulin overexpression. Human ASNA1 is highly expressed in pancreatic beta cells, but not in other pancreatic endocrine cell types, and regulates insulin secretion in cultured cells. We propose that ASNA1 is an evolutionarily conserved modulator of insulin signaling.