Many regional differences in Caenorhabditis elegans body pattern are generated after hatching. Here I describe a gene, mab-5, that is required for the postembryonic development of nearly all ectodermal and mesodermal features that normally characterize a posterior body region. In addition, this gene is necessary for most cell migrations toward the posterior, but not for cell migrations toward the anterior. mab-5+ activity is cell-autonomous. In animals carrying a mutation in the gene lin-22, increases or decreases in mab-5+ gene dosage produce corresponding increases or decreases in the size of the region in which cells adopt posterior-specific fates. The model that best explains the data is that during postembryonic development, posterior-specific patterns of cell differentiation and cell migration are initiated by graded positional information, and that a common step in the different cellular responses to this information is mediated by mab-5 activity.