Post-transcriptional regulation underlies the circadian control of gene expression and animal behaviors. However, the role of mRNA surveillance via the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway in circadian rhythms remains elusive. Here, we report that Drosophila NMD pathway acts in a subset of circadian pacemaker neurons to maintain robust 24 h rhythms of free-running locomotor activity. RNA interference-mediated depletion of key NMD factors in timeless-expressing clock cells decreased the amplitude of circadian locomotor behaviors. Transgenic manipulation of the NMD pathway in clock neurons expressing a neuropeptide PIGMENT-DISPERSING FACTOR (PDF) was sufficient to dampen or lengthen free-running locomotor rhythms. Confocal imaging of a transgenic NMD reporter revealed that arrhythmic Clock mutants exhibited stronger NMD activity in PDF-expressing neurons than wild-type. We further found that hypomorphic mutations in Suppressor with morphogenetic effect on geni-talia 5 (Smg5) or Smg6 impaired circadian behaviors. These NMD mutants normally developed PDF-expressing clock neurons and displayed daily oscillations in the transcript levels of core clock genes. By contrast, the loss of Smg5 or Smg6 function affected the relative transcript levels of cAMP response element-binding protein B (CrebB) in an isoform-specific manner. Moreover, the overexpression of a transcriptional repressor form of CrebB rescued free-running locomotor rhythms in Smg5-depleted flies. These data demonstrate that CrebB is a rate-limiting substrate of the genetic NMD pathway important for the behavioral output of circadian clocks in Drosophila.