Fertilization-induced intracellular calcium (Ca(2+)) oscillations stimulate the onset of mammalian development, and little is known about the biochemical mechanism by which these Ca(2+) signals are transduced into the events of egg activation. This study addresses the hypothesis that transient increases in Ca(2+) similar to those at fertilization stimulate oscillatory Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) enzyme activity, incrementally driving the events of egg activation. Since groups of fertilized eggs normally oscillate asynchronously, synchronous oscillatory Ca(2+) signaling with a frequency similar to fertilization was experimentally induced in unfertilized mouse eggs by using ionomycin and manipulating extracellular calcium. Coanalysis of intracellular Ca(2+) levels and CaMKII activity in the same population of eggs demonstrated a rapid and transient enzyme response to each increase in Ca(2+). Enzyme activity increased 370% during the first Ca(2+) rise, representing about 60% of maximal activity, and had decreased to basal levels within 5 min from the time Ca(2+) reached its peak value. Single fertilized eggs monitored for Ca(2+) had a mean increase in CaMKII activity of 185%. One and two ionomycin-induced Ca(2+) transients resulted in 39 and 49% mean cortical granule (CG) loss, respectively, while CG exocytosis and resumption of meiosis were inhibited by a CaMKII antagonist. These studies demonstrate that changes in the level of Ca(2+) and in CaMKII activity can be studied in the same cell and that CaMKII activity is exquisitely sensitive to experimentally induced oscillations of Ca(2+) in vivo. The data support the hypothesis that CaMKII activity oscillates for a period of time after normal fertilization and temporally regulates many events of egg activation.