During C. elegans development, the temporal pattern of many cell lineages is specified by graded activity of the heterochronic gene Lin-14. Here we demonstrate that a temporal gradient in Lin-14 protein is generated posttranscriptionally by multiple elements in the lin-14 3'UTR that are regulated by the heterochronic gene Lin-4. The lin-14 3'UTR is both necessary and sufficient to confer lin-4-mediated posttranscriptional temporal regulation. The function of the lin-14 3'UTR is conserved between C. elegans and C. briggsae. Among the conserved sequences are seven elements that are each complementary to the lin-4 RNAs. A reporter gene bearing three of these elements shows partial temporal gradient activity. These data suggest a molecular mechanism for Lin-14p temporal gradient formation: the lin-4 RNAs base pair to sites in the lin-14 3'UTR to form multiple RNA duplexes that down-regulate lin-14 translation.