Whether deposited maternal products are important during early seed development in flowering plants remains controversial. Here, we show that RNA interference-mediated downregulation of transcription is deleterious to endosperm development but does not block zygotic divisions. Furthermore, we show that RNA POLYMERASE II is less active in the embryo than in the endosperm. This dimorphic pattern is established late during female gametogenesis and is inherited by the two products of fertilization. This juxtaposition of distinct transcriptional activities correlates with differential patterns of histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation, LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN1 localization, and Histone H2B turnover in the egg cell versus the central cell. Thus, distinct epigenetic and transcriptional patterns in the embryo and endosperm are already established in their gametic progenitors. We further demonstrate that the non-CG DNA methyltransferase CHROMOMETHYLASE3 (CMT3) and DEMETER-LIKE DNA glycosylases are required for the correct distribution of H3K9 dimethylation in the egg and central cells, respectively, and that plants defective for CMT3 activity show abnormal embryo development. Our results provide evidence that cell-specific mechanisms lead to the differentiation of epigenetically distinct female gametes in Arabidopsis thaliana. They also suggest that the establishment of a quiescent state in the zygote may play a role in the reprogramming of the young plant embryo.