In vertebrates, the microtubule binding protein TPX2 is required for meiotic and mitotic spindle assembly. TPX2 is also known to bind to and activate Aurora A kinase and target it to the spindle. However, the relationship between the TPX2-Aurora A interaction and the role of TPX2 in spindle assembly is unclear. Here, we identify TPXL-1, a C. elegans protein that is the first characterized invertebrate ortholog of TPX2. We demonstrate that an essential role of TPXL-1 during mitosis is to activate and target Aurora A to microtubules. Our data suggest that this targeting stabilizes microtubules connecting kinetochores to the spindle poles. Thus, activation and targeting of Aurora A appears to be an ancient and conserved function of TPX2 that plays a central role in mitotic spindle assembly.