The intracellular levels of cAMP play a critical role in the meiotic arrest of mammalian oocytes. However, it is debated whether this second messenger is produced endogenously by the oocytes or is maintained at levels inhibitory to meiotic resumption via diffusion from somatic cells. Here, we demonstrate that adenylyl cyclase genes and corresponding proteins are expressed in rodent oocytes. The mRNA coding for the AC3 isoform of adenylyl cyclase was detected in rat and mouse oocytes by RT-PCR and by in situ hybridization. The expression of AC3 protein was confirmed by immunocytochemistry and immunofluorescence analysis in oocytes in situ. Cyclic AMP accumulation in denuded oocytes was increased by incubation with forskolin, and this stimulation was abolished by increasing intraoocyte Ca(2+) with the ionophore A23187. The Ca(2+) effects were reversed by an inhibitor of Ca(2+), calmodulin-dependent kinase II. These regulations of cAMP levels indicate that the major cyclase that produces cAMP in the rat oocyte has properties identical to those of recombinant or endogenous AC3 expressed in somatic cells. Furthermore, mouse oocytes deficient in AC3 show signs of a defect in meiotic arrest in vivo and accelerated spontaneous maturation in vitro. Collectively, these data provide evidence that an adenylyl cyclase is functional in rodent oocytes and that its activity is involved in the control of oocyte meiotic arrest.