The first meiotic cell division (meiotic maturation) of dictyate stage mouse oocytes removed from the follicle resumes spontaneously in vitro. We used the puromycin analog 6-dimethylaminopurine (6-DMAP) to test the respective roles of protein synthesis and protein phosphorylation in driving this process. While protein synthesis inhibitors do not block meiosis resumption, 6-DMAP was found to inhibit germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), by inhibiting the burst of protein phosphorylation without changing the rate of incorporation of [35S]methionine into proteins. This effect is reversible; it depends both upon drug concentration and the particular female. When added after GVBD and before the emission of the first polar body, 6-DMAP decreases the level of protein phosphorylation and induces decondensation of the chromosomes and reformation of the nuclear envelope. In contrast, 6-DMAP did not trigger these processes in metaphase II oocytes which only produce resting nuclei when treated by protein synthesis inhibitors. From these data, we conclude that (1) the early appearance and stability of mouse MPF in Metaphase I oocytes depend on protein phosphorylation rather than on protein synthesis, and (2) protein synthesis is necessary to maintain the condensation of the chromosomes in metaphase II oocytes.