Sponge bodies, cytoplasmic structures containing post-transcriptional regulatory factors, are distributed throughout the nurse cells and oocytes of the Drosophila ovary and share components with P bodies of yeast and mammalian cells. We show that sponge body composition differs between nurse cells and the oocyte, and that the sponge bodies change composition rapidly after entry into the oocyte. We identify conditions that affect sponge body organization. At one extreme, components are distributed relatively uniformly or in small dispersed bodies. At the other extreme, components are present in large reticulated bodies. Both types of sponge bodies allow normal development, but show substantial differences in distribution of Staufen protein and oskar mRNA, whose localization within the oocyte is essential for axial patterning. Based on these and other results we propose a model for the relationship between P bodies and the various cytoplasmic bodies containing P body proteins in the Drosophila ovary. Developmental Dynamics 238:918–930, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.