Disruptive mutations in chromatin remodeler CHD8 cause autism spectrum disorders, exhibiting widespread white matter abnormalities; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We show that cell-type specific Chd8 deletion in oligodendrocyte progenitors, but not in neurons, results in myelination defects, revealing a cell-intrinsic dependence on CHD8 for oligodendrocyte lineage development, myelination and post-injury remyelination. CHD8 activates expression of BRG1-associated SWI/SNF complexes that in turn activate CHD7, thus initiating a successive chromatin remodeling cascade that orchestrates oligodendrocyte lineage progression. Genomic occupancy analyses reveal that CHD8 establishes an accessible chromatin landscape, and recruits MLL/KMT2 histone methyltransferase complexes distinctively around proximal promoters to promote oligodendrocyte differentiation. Inhibition of histone demethylase activity partially rescues myelination defects of CHD8-deficient mutants. Our data indicate that CHD8 exhibits a dual function through inducing a cascade of chromatin reprogramming and recruiting H3K4 histone methyltransferases to establish oligodendrocyte identity, suggesting potential strategies of therapeutic intervention for CHD8-associated white matter defects.