The second division of the gut precursor E cells is lethally accelerated during Caenorhabditis elegans gastrulation by mutations in the emb-5 gene, which encodes a presumed nuclear protein. We have isolated suppressor mutations of the temperature-sensitive allele emb-5(hc61), screened for them among dpy and other mutations routinely used as genetic markers, and identified eight emb-5 suppressor genes. Of these eight suppressor genes, at least four encode extracellular matrix proteins, i.e., three collagens and one proteoglycan. The suppression of the emb-5 gastrulation defect seemed to require the maternal expression of the suppressors. Phenotypically, the suppressors by themselves slowed down early embryonic cell divisions and corrected the abnormal cell-division sequence of emb-5 mutant embryos. We propose an indirect stress-response mechanism to be the main cause of the suppression because: (1) none of these suppressors is specific, either to particular temperature-sensitive emb-5 alleles or to the emb-5 gene; (2) suppressible alleles of genes, reported here or elsewhere, are temperature sensitive or weak; (3) the suppression is not strong but marginal; (4) the suppression itself shows some degree of temperature dependency; and (5) none of the extracellular matrix proteins identified here is known to be expressed in oocytes or early embryos, despite the present observation that the suppression is maternal.