We have identified Conserved Non-coding Elements (CNEs) in the regulatory region of Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae mab-9, a T-box gene known to be important for cell fate specification in the developing C. elegans hindgut. Two adjacent CNEs (a region 78 bp in length) are both necessary and sufficient to drive reporter gene expression in posterior hypodermal cells. The failure of a genomic mab-9::gfp construct lacking this region to express in posterior hypodermis correlates with the inability of this construct to completely rescue the mab-9 mutant phenotype. Transgenic males carrying this construct in a mab-9 mutant background exhibit tail abnormalities including morphogenetic defects, altered tail autofluorescence and abnormal lectin-binding properties. Hermaphrodites display reduced susceptibility to the C. elegans pathogen Microbacterium nematophilum. This comparative genomics approach has therefore revealed a previously unknown role for mab-9 in hypodermal function and we suggest that MAB-9 is required for the secretion and/or modification of posterior cuticle.