In order to elucidate the function of the cytoplasmic core (or rachis: a structure specific of the nematode gonads), we have carried out a cytological study of this structure in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, in wild-type and in several mutant strains showing an abnormal gametogenesis. We also performed an ultrastructural radioautographic study of RNA synthesis during oogenesis in order to examine the part played by the rachis in the transport of nutritive substances. Our results evidence for the first time a metabolite transfer from the germ cells to the cytoplasmic core and lead us to assign to the core a trophic role linked to oogenesis. A statistical analysis of silver grain distribution has led us to conclude that there is no accumulation of RNA labelling in any part of the cytoplasmic core. In addition, our studies performed on sterile mutant strains suggest that the cytoplasmic core may have a specific function in oogenesis determination.