Specification of germ cell fate is fundamental in development and heredity. Recent evidence indicates that in mice, specification of primordial germ cells (PGCs), the common source of both oocytes and spermatozoa, occurs through the integration of three key events: repression of the somatic program, reacquisition of potential pluripotency and ensuing genome-wide epigenetic reprogramming. Here we provide genetic evidence that Prdm14, a PR domain-containing transcriptional regulator with exclusive expression in the germ cell lineage and pluripotent cell lines, is critical in two of these events, the reacquisition of potential pluripotency and successful epigenetic reprogramming. In Prdm14 mutants, the failure of these two events manifests even in the presence of Prdm1 (also known as Blimp1), a key transcriptional regulator for PGC specification. Our combined evidence demonstrates that Prdm14 defines a previously unknown genetic pathway, initiating independently from Prdm1, for ensuring the launching of the mammalian germ cell lineage.