The role of microRNAs in embryonic cell fate specification is largely unknown. In vertebrates, the miR-430/427/302 family shows a unique expression signature and is exclusively expressed during early embryogenesis. Here, we comparatively address the embryonic function of miR-302 in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and its ortholog miR-427 in Xenopus laevis. Interestingly, we found that this miRNA family displays species-specific target selection among ligands of the Nodal pathway, with a striking conservation of the inhibitors, Lefties, but differential targeting of the activators, Nodals. The Nodal pathway plays a crucial role in germ layer specification. Accordingly, by gain and loss of function experiments in hESCs, we show that miR-302 promotes the mesendodermal lineage at the expense of neuroectoderm formation. Similarly, depletion of miR-427 in Xenopus embryos hinders the organizer formation and leads to severe dorsal mesodermal patterning defects. These findings suggest a crucial role for the miR-430/427/302 family in vertebrate embryogenesis by controlling germ layer specification.