Abstract The Toll/Dorsal pathway regulates dorsoventral axis formation in the Drosophila embryo. We had previously obtained evidence that a homologous pathway exists in Xenopus, however, its role during normal frog development had not been established. Here we report the cloning of Xenopus MyD88 (XMyD88), whose mammalian homologs are adaptor proteins linking Toll/IL-1 receptors and IRAK kinases. We show that in the frog embryo overexpression of a dominant-negative form of XMyD88 blocked Toll receptor activity, specifically inhibited axis formation and reduced expression of pivotal organizer genes. The observed stage-dependency of interference suggests a function for maternal XMyD88 soon after fertilization. We conclude that XMyD88 activity is required for normal Spemann organizer formation, implying an essential role for maternal Toll/IL-1 receptors in Xenopus axis formation.