In species from nematodes to humans, many healthy, developing oocytes apoptose around the pachytene stage of meiosis. Why and how this happens is not known. Now, on p. 4975, Boag and co-workers report that a conserved RNA-protein (RNP)complex regulates germline apoptosis in Caenorhabditis elegans. They identify a germline RNA-binding protein, CAR-1 (for cytokinesis/apoptosis/RNA binding), and show that it associates with the RNA helicase CGH-1 in an RNA-dependent manner within a germline RNP complex. This interaction is conserved in Drosophila oocytes. RNAi knockdown of CAR-1 in nematodes increases oocyte apoptosis, as does CGH-1 depletion. Unexpectedly, if apoptosis is prevented in worms with reduced car-1 expression,defects in oogenesis lead to gonad failure. The researchers conclude that CAR-1 has a conserved role in oogenesis and propose that germline apoptosis enhances the formation of functional oocytes.