The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a contiguous network of interconnected membrane sheets and tubules. The ER is differentiated into distinct domains, including the peripheral ER and nuclear envelope. Inhibition of two ER proteins, Rtn4a and DP1/NogoA, was previously shown to inhibit the formation of ER tubules in vitro. We show that the formation of ER tubules in vitro also requires a Rab family GTPase. Characterization of the 29 Caenorhabditis elegans Rab GTPases reveals that depletion of RAB-5 phenocopies the defects in peripheral ER structure that result from depletion of RET-1 and YOP-1, the C. elegans homologues of Rtn4a and DP1/NogoA. Perturbation of endocytosis by other means did not affect ER structure; the role of RAB-5 in ER morphology is thus independent of its well-studied requirement for endocytosis. RAB-5 and YOP-1/RET-1 also control the kinetics of nuclear envelope disassembly, which suggests an important role for the morphology of the peripheral ER in this process.