Germ cells are distinct from somatic cells in their immortality, totipotency, and ability to undergo meiosis. Candidates for components that guide the unique germline program are the distinctive granules observed in germ cells of many species. We show that a component of germ granules is essential for fertility in C. elegans and that its primary function is in germline proliferation. This role has been revealed by molecular and genetic analyses of pgl-1. PGL-1 is a predicted RNA-binding protein that is present on germ granules at all stages of development. Elimination of PGL-1 results in defective germ granules and sterility. Interestingly, PGL-1 function is required for fertility only at elevated temperatures, suggesting that germline development is inherently sensitive to temperature.