Establishment of an axis of cell polarity and differentiation of the cell poles are fundamental aspects of cellular development in many organisms. We compared the effects of two bacterial cytoskeletal-like systems, the MreB and MinCDE systems, on these processes in Escherichia coli. We report that the Min proteins are capable of establishing an axis of oscillation that is the initial step in establishment of polarity in spherical cells, in a process that is independent of the MreB cytoskeleton. In contrast, the MreB system is required for establishment of the rod shape of the cell and for polar targeting of other polar constituents, such as the Shigella virulence factor IcsA and the aspartate chemoreceptor Tar, in a process that is independent of the Min system. Thus, the two bacterial cytoskeletal-like systems act independently on different aspects of cell polarization.