The correct assignment of cell fate within fields of multipotent progenitors is essential for accurate tissue diversification. The first lymphatic vessels arise from pre-existing veins after venous endothelial cells become specified as lymphatic progenitors. Prox1 specifies lymphatic fate and labels these progenitors; however, the mechanisms restricting Prox1 expression and limiting the progenitor pool remain unknown. We identified a zebrafish mutant that displayed premature, expanded, and prolonged lymphatic specification. The gene responsible encodes the regulator of alternative splicing, Nova2. In zebrafish and human endothelial cells, Nova2 selectively regulates pre-mRNA splicing for components of signaling pathways and phosphoproteins. Nova2-deficient endothelial cells display increased Mapk/Erk signaling, and Prox1 expression is dynamically controlled by Erk signaling. We identify a mechanism whereby Nova2-regulated splicing constrains Erk signaling, thus limiting lymphatic progenitor cell specification. This identifies the capacity of a factor that tunes mRNA splicing to control assignment of cell fate during vascular differentiation.