Anti-tubulin immunofluorescence and laser-scanning confocal microscopy were used to examine microtubule organization during Xenopus oogenesis (Dumont stages I-VI). Stage I oocytes contained a poorly ordered microtubule array, characterized by concentrations of microtubule in the cortex, surrounding the germinal vesicle, and associated with the mitochondrial mass. No focus of microtubule organization was detectable by optical sectioning or in microtubule regrowth experiments, suggesting that stage I oocytes lack a functional MTOC. The microtubule array becomes progressively more complex and polarized during oogenesis; an extensive array of microtubules and microtubule bundles was apparent in the animal hemisphere of stage VI oocytes, and a less ordered array was observed in the vegetal hemisphere. A dense network of microtubules surrounded the germinal vesicle, apparently extending from a tubulin- and microtubule-rich region of cytoplasm adjacent to the vegetal surface of the GV. The organization of microtubules in normal oocytes, in oocytes recovering from cold-induced microtubule depolymerization, and in enucleated oocytes, suggested that the germinal vesicle serves as an MTOC in stage VI oocytes. Antibodies to acetylated alpha-tubulin revealed numerous acetylated, presumably stable, microtubules in stage I and stage VI oocytes. The array of oocyte microtubules thus might function as a stable framework for the localization of developmentally important molecules and organelles during oogenesis.