Cell polarity can be defined in terms of the polarity of a cell with respect to others in the same plane (planar cell polarity; PCP), or in terms of polarity based on the subcellular localisation of cell structures, proteins or domains (apical-basal polarity; ABP). The extent to which these polarity pathways are linked, however, is unclear. Here, Janet Heasman and colleagues investigate interactions between the PCP protein Vangl2 and the ABP component aPKC in Xenopus oocytes (p. 3989). The researchers show that Vangl2 is enriched animally in subcortical islands, where it interacts with vesicle associated membrane protein 1 (VAMP1) and acetylated microtubules. The distribution of these islands and the microtubule cytoskeleton, they report, is dependent on aPKC. Importantly, the researchers show that both maternal Vangl2 and aPKC are required to establish asymmetries in the oocyte and early embryo. These data highlight important links between the PCP and ABP pathways, suggesting that Vangl2 and aPKC are part of a common network that influences oocyte and embryo patterning.