We report that four putative germline RNA helicases, GLHs, are components of the germline-specific P granules in Caenorhabditis elegans. GLH-3 and GLH-4, newly discovered, belong to a multi-gene glh family. Although GLHs are homologous to Drosophila VASA, a polar granule component necessary for oogenesis and embryonic pattern formation, the GLHs are distinguished by containing multiple CCHC zinc fingers. RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) reveals the GLHs are critical for oogenesis. By RNAi at 20 degrees C, when either loss of GLH-1 or GLH-4 alone has no effect, loss of both GLH-1 and GLH-4 results in 97% sterility in the glh-1/4(RNAi) offspring of injected hermaphrodites. glh-1/4(RNAi) germlines are under-proliferated and are without oocytes. glh-1/4(RNAi) animals produce sperm; however, spermatogenesis is delayed and the sperm are defective. P granules are still present in glh-1/4(RNAi) sterile worms as revealed with antibodies against the remaining GLH-2 and GLH-3 proteins, indicating the GLHs function independently in P granule assembly. These studies reveal that C.elegans can use GLH-1 or GLH-4 to promote germline development.