The mechanisms that ensure coupling between meiotic cell cycle progression and subsequent developmental events, including specification of embryonic axes, are poorly understood. Here, we establish that zyg-11 and the cullin cul-2 promote the metaphase-to-anaphase transition and M phase exit at meiosis II in Caenorhabditis elegans. Our results indicate that ZYG-11 acts with a CUL-2-based E3 ligase that is essential at meiosis II and that functions redundantly with the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome at meiosis I. Our data also indicate that delayed M phase exit in zyg-11(RNAi) embryos is due to accumulation of the B type cyclin CYB-3. We demonstrate that PAR proteins and P granules become polarized in an inverted manner during the meiosis II delay resulting from zyg-11 or cul-2 inactivation, and that zyg-11 and cul-2 can regulate polarity establishment independently of a role in cell cycle progression. Furthermore, we find that microtubules appear dispensable for ectopic polarity during the meiosis II delay in zyg-11(RNAi) embryos, as well as for AP polarity during the first mitotic cell cycle in wild-type embryos. Our findings suggest a model in which a CUL-2-based E3 ligase promotes cell cycle progression and prevents polarity establishment during meiosis II, and in which the centrosome acts as a cue to polarize the embryo along the AP axis after exit from the meiotic cell cycle.