Freeze fracture and lanthanum tracer experiments have shown that gap junctions exist throughout folliculogenesis between granulosa cells and growing mouse oocytes (Anderson and Albertini, J. Cell Biol. 71, 680-686, 1976). The following lines of experimentation in the present study suggest that metabolic cooperativity exists between granulosa cells and their enclosed oocytes, i.e., gap junctions are functional, and that in most cases examined, greater than 85% of the metabolites present in follicle-enclosed oocytes were originally taken up by the granulosa cells and transferred to the oocyte via gap junctions: (1) When incubated with various radiolabeled compounds, follicle-enclosed oocytes contained more intracellular radioactivity than did oocytes with no attached granulosa cells (denuded oocytes); (2) for two radiolabeled ribonucleosides examined, the distribution of phosphorylated metabolites in follicle-enclosed oocytes resembled that of granulosa cells and differed significantly from that in denuded oocytes; (3) pulse-chase experiments with radiolabeled ribonucleosides revealed that during the chase period more radioactivity became associated with the follicle-enclosed oocyte; (4) treatments known to disrupt gap junctions in other cell types were effective in reversibly uncoupling metabolic cooperativity between granulosa cells and oocytes; and (5) a series of control experiments using (a) medium conditioned by granulosa cells and (b) cocultures of denuded oocytes and granulosa cells in which physical contact between the two cell types was not permitted demonstrated that contact between follicle cells and oocytes was necessary for observing metabolic cooperativity. Metabolic cooperativity was also found between follicle cells and oocytes in the two culture systems which support growth of mouse oocytes in vitro. The fact that oocytes do not grow well, if at all, in the absence of follicle cells and the large contribution of nutrients apparently furnished to the oocyte by the granulosa cells is consistent with the concept that gap junction mediated metabolic cooperativity between follicle cells and their enclosed oocytes is vital for mammalian oocyte growth.