Faithful segregation of homologous chromosomes during meiosis requires pairing, synapsis, and crossing-over. In C. elegans, homolog pairing and synapsis depend on pairing centers (PCs), special regions near one end of each chromosome that interact with the nuclear envelope (NE) and cytoplasmic microtubules. Here, we report that PCs are required for nuclear reorganization at the onset of meiosis. We demonstrate that PCs recruit the Polo-like kinase PLK-2 to induce NE remodeling, chromosome pairing, and synapsis. Recruitment of PLK-2 is also required to mediate a cell cycle delay and selective apoptosis of nuclei containing unsynapsed chromosomes, establishing a molecular link between these two quality control mechanisms. This work reveals unexpected functions for the conserved family of Polo-like kinases, and advances our understanding of how meiotic processes are properly coordinated to ensure transmission of genetic information from parents to progeny.