A cell's decision to undergo meiosis is regulated by multiple signals. In budding yeast, these signals include mating-type status, nutrient starvation, and respiration; the need for respiration is often manifested as a requirement for a nonfermentable carbon source. We have dissected the roles of respiration and carbon source in promoting entry into the meiotic program. This analysis revealed that respiration is needed throughout meiosis but a nonfermentable carbon source is necessary only prior to the meiotic nuclear divisions. A nonfermentable carbon source serves several roles during the early stages of meiosis. It is required for PolII transcription, DNA replication, and recombination. Finally, although the global downregulation of transcription and lack of DNA replication in nonrespiring cells could be due to a lack of energy, we show that the inability to induce genes initiating entry into the meiotic program is not. We propose that a separate respiration-sensing pathway governs meiotic entry.