Inhibitor of differentiation (Id) proteins act during embryogenesis and development to repress gene transcription required for lineage commitment, while promoting cell growth. Growth factors belonging to the TGFbeta superfamily of signaling molecules, notably the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and activin, can regulate Id expression in these tissues. Id expression and function in adult physiology is less well determined, and we hypothesized a role for Id proteins in the adult mammalian ovary. Immunohistochemistry for Id1, Id2, Id3, and Id4 in the sheep ovary revealed consistent expression in granulosa and thecal cells of ovarian follicles throughout development. In atretic follicles, Id proteins were selectively down-regulated in thecal cells (P < 0.0001). Additionally, Id1 was universally up-regulated in the cumulus cells adjacent to the oocyte. Immunohistochemistry for phospho (p)-smad 1/5/8 signaling components (stimulated by BMPs) showed a punctate pattern of expression whereas p-smad 2/3 (stimulated by activin) was ubiquitously expressed in follicles. Neither pathway, however, displayed differential staining in line with Id1 cumulus-specific expression, suggesting a more complex relationship between Id1 expression and TGFbeta signaling in these cells. Nevertheless, in vitro, stimulation of ovine granulosa cells with BMP6 or activin A led to a respective increase and decrease in Id1 (P < 0.0001), Id2 (P < 0.0001), Id3 (P < 0.0001), and Id4 (P < 0.05) transcripts, and Id1 gene expression was further manipulated by the oocyte-secreted factors BMP15 and growth differentiation factor 9 (P < 0.001). These data confirm that TGFbeta signaling can regulate Id gene expression in the sheep ovarian follicle and suggest a functional role for the Id family in the mammalian ovary.