We cloned and analyzed two genes, cap-1 and cap-2, which encode the alpha and beta subunits of Caenorhabditis elegans capping protein (CP). The nematode CP subunits are 55% (cap-1) and 66% (cap-2) identical to the chicken CP subunits and 32% (cap-1) and 48% (cap-2) identical to the yeast CP subunits. Purified nematode CP made by expression of both subunits in yeast is functionally similar to chicken skeletal muscle CP in two different actin polymerization assays. The abnormal cell morphology and disorganized actin cytoskeleton of yeast CP null mutants are restored to wild-type by expression of the nematode CP subunits. Expression of the nematode CP alpha or beta subunit is sufficient to restore viability to yeast cap1 sac6 or cap2 sac6 double mutants, respectively. Therefore, despite evolution of the nematode actin cytoskeleton to a state far more complex than that of yeast, one important component can function in both organisms.