Fungal predatory behavior on nematodes has evolved independently in all major fungal lineages. The basidiomycete oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus is a carnivorous fungus that preys on nematodes to supplement its nitrogen intake under nutrient-limiting conditions. Its hyphae can paralyze nematodes within a few minutes of contact, but the mechanism had remained unclear. We demonstrate that the predator–prey relationship is highly conserved between multiple Pleurotus species and a diversity of nematodes. To further investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying rapid nematode paralysis, we conducted genetic screens in Caenorhabditis elegans and isolated mutants that became resistant to P. ostreatus. We found that paralysis-resistant mutants all harbored loss-of-function mutations in genes required for ciliogenesis, demonstrating that the fungus induced paralysis via the cilia of nematode sensory neurons. Furthermore, we observed that P. ostreatus caused excess calcium influx and hypercontraction of the head and pharyngeal muscle cells, ultimately resulting in rapid necrosis of the entire nervous system and muscle cells throughout the entire organism. This cilia-dependent predatory mechanism is evolutionarily conserved in Pristionchus pacificus, a nematode species estimated to have diverged from C. elegans 280 to 430 million y ago. Thus, P. ostreatus exploits a nematode-killing mechanism that is distinct from widely used anthelmintic drugs such as ivermectin, levamisole, and aldicarb, representing a potential route for targeting parasitic nematodes in plants, animals, and humans.