In Caenorhabditis elegans, lack of the conserved germline RNA helicase CGH-1 causes infertility and excessive levels of physiological germline apoptosis, a process that normally claims about half of all developing oocytes. In yeast the CGH-1 ortholog is a key component of degradative "processing (P) bodies," which may share some properties with germline protein-RNA complexes such as P granules. During oogenesis CGH-1 associates with P granules, but also accumulates to high levels in additional cytoplasmic particles. Here we show that appropriate levels and localization of CGH-1 depends on some P granule components and on mechanisms that establish meiotic development. At the same time, germ cell death is not increased by various abnormalities in P granules or meiosis. We conclude that in developing oocytes CGH-1 particles accumulate specifically in response to meiotic development and have distinct functions from P granules, and may be dynamic protein-mRNA structures. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.