Pattern of 3H-uridine incorporation into RNA of spores of Onoclea sensibilis imbibed in complete darkness (non-germinating conditions) and induced to germinate in red light was followed by oligo-dT cellulose chromatography, gel electrophoresis coupled with fluorography and autoradiography. In dark-imbibed spores, RNA synthesis was initiated about 24 h after sowing, with most of the label accumulating in the high mol. wt. poly(A) -RNA fraction. There was no incorporation of the label into poly(A) +RNA until 48 h after sowing. In contrast, photo-induced spores began to synthesize all fractions of RNA within 12 h after sowing and by 24 h, incorporation of 3H-uridine into RNA of irradiated spores was nearly 70-fold higher than that into dark-imbibed spores. Protein synthesis, as monitored by 3H-arginine incorporation into the acid-insoluble fraction and by autoradiography, was initiated in spores within 1-2 h after sowing under both conditions. Autoradiographic experiments also showed that onset of protein synthesis in the cytoplasm of the germinating spore is independent of the transport of newly synthesized nuclear RNA. One-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of 35S-methionine-labelled proteins revealed a good correspondence between proteins synthesized in a cell-free translation system directed by poly(A) +RNA of dormant spores and those synthesized in vivo by dark-imbibed and photo-induced spores. These results indicate that stored mRNAs of O. sensibilis spores are functionally competent and provide templates for the synthesis of proteins during dark-imbibition and germination.