The Nedd8 ubiquitin-like protein modification pathway regulates cell-cycle progression. Our analysis of Nedd8 requirements during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis indicates that the cytoskeleton is another target. Nedd8 conjugation negatively regulated contractility of the microfilament-rich cell cortex during pronuclear migration and again during cytokinesis. The Nedd8 pathway also was required after meiosis to negatively regulate katanin, a microtubule-severing complex, permitting the assembly of a large mitotic spindle. We propose that Nedd8-modified cullin, as part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, targets katanin for degradation during the transition from meiosis to mitosis.