We recently identified a single family member homologue of syntaxin in the sea urchin. Syntaxin is present throughout development, and in rapidly dividing cleavage stage embryos it is present on numerous vesicles at the cell cortex. We hypothesized that syntaxin mediates essential membrane fusion events during early embryogenesis, reasoning that the vesicles and/or their contents are important for development. Here we show that functional inactivation of syntaxin with either Botulinum neurotoxin C1, which specifically proteolyzes syntaxin, or antibodies against syntaxin results in an inhibition of cell division. These observations suggest that syntaxin is essential for membrane fusion events critical for cell division.