In the wild-type C. elegans germ line there are both mitotic and meiotic germ cells. Mutations in glp-1 cause germ cells that would normally divide mitotically to enter meiosis. This mutant phenotype mimics the effect of killing the distal tip cell, a somatic cell that interacts with the germ line to regulate the mitotic/meiotic decision. In addition, wild-type glp-1 product is required maternally for embryogenesis. Temperature-shift experiments indicate that the temporal requirement for glp-1 activity in the germ line is the same as that for distal tip cell regulation. Mosaic analyses suggest that glp-1 is produced in the germ line. We propose that glp-1 acts as part of the receiving mechanism in the interaction between the distal tip cell and germ line.