We describe mutations in the orb gene, identified previously as an ovarian-specific member of a large family of RNA-binding proteins. Strong orb alleles arrest oogenesis prior to egg chamber formation, an early step of oogenesis, whereas females mutant for a maternal-effect lethal orb allele lay eggs with ventralized eggshell structures. Embryos that develop within these mutant eggs display posterior patterning defects and abnormal dorsoventral axis formation. Consistent with such embryonic phenotypes, orb is required for the asymmetric distribution of oskar and gurken mRNAs within the oocyte during the later stages of oogenesis. In addition, double heterozygous combinations of orb and grk or orb and top/DER alleles reveal that mutations in these genes interact genetically, suggesting that they participate in a common pathway. Orb protein, which is localized within the oocyte in wild-type females, is distributed ubiquitously in stage 8-10 orb mutant oocytes. These data will be discussed in the context of a model proposing that Orb is a component of the cellular machinery that delivers mRNA molecules to specific locations within the oocyte and that this function contributes to both D/V and A/P axis specification during oogenesis.