Piwi family proteins are essential for germline development and bind piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs 1 2 3). The grandchildless gene aub of Drosophila melanogaster encodes the piRNA-binding protein Aub that is essential for formation of primordial germ cells (PGCs) 4. Here we report that mouse, Xenopus laevis and Drosophila melanogaster Piwi family proteins contain symmetrical dimethylarginines (sDMAs). We find that Piwi proteins are expressed in X. laevis oocytes and we identify numerous X. laevis piRNAs. We report that the Drosophila homolog of protein methyltransferase 5 ( dPRMT5, csul/dart5), which is also the product of a grandchildless gene 5, 6, is required for arginine methylation of Drosophila Piwi, Ago3 and Aub proteins, in vivo. Loss of dPRMT5 activity leads to reduction of piRNAs and in particular of Ago3 and Aub protein levels and accumulation of retrotransposons in the Drosophila ovary. Our studies explain the relationship between aub and dPRMT5 (csul/dart5) genes by demonstrating that dPRMT5 is the enzyme that methylates Aub. Our findings underscore the significance of sDMA modification of Piwi proteins in the germline and suggest an interacting pathway of genes that are required for piRNA function and PGC specification.