The Caenorhabditis elegans anteroposterior axis is established in response to fertilization by sperm. Here we present evidence that RhoA, the guanine nucleotide-exchange factor ECT-2, and the Rho guanosine triphosphatase-activating protein CYK-4 modulate myosin light-chain activity to create a gradient of actomyosin, which establishes the anterior domain. CYK-4 is enriched within sperm, and paternally donated CYK-4 is required for polarity. These data suggest that CYK-4 provides a molecular link between fertilization and polarity establishment in the one-cell embryo. Orthologs of CYK-4 are expressed in sperm of other species, which suggests that this cue may be evolutionarily conserved.