Dynamic regulation of histone modifications and small noncoding RNAs is observed throughout the development of the C. elegans germ line. Histone modifications are differentially regulated in the mitotic vs meiotic germ line, on X chromosomes vs autosomes and on paired chromosomes vs unpaired chromosomes. Small RNAs function in transposon silencing and developmental gene regulation. Histone modifications and small RNAs produced in the germ line can be inherited and impact embryonic development. Disruption of histone-modifying enzymes or small RNA machinery in the germ line can result in sterility due to degeneration of the germ line and/or an inability to produce functional gametes.