Two components of the germ-line-specific P granules of the nematode Caenorhabditis elgans have been identified using polyclonal antibodies specific for each. Both components are putative germ-line RNA helicases (GLHs) that contain CCHC zinc fingers of the type found in the RNA-binding nucleocapsid proteins of retroviruses. The predicted GLH-1 protein has four CCHC fingers; GLH-2 has six. Both GLH proteins localize in the P granules at all stage of germ-line development. However, the two glh genes display different patterns of RNA and protein accumulation in the germ lines of hermaphrodites and males. Injection of antisense glh-1 or glh-2 RNA into wild-type worms causes some offspring to develop into sterile adults, suggesting that either or both genes are required for normal germ-line development. As these very similar glh genes physically map within several hundred kilobases of one another, it seems likely that they represent a fairly recent gene duplication event.