The distribution of actin filaments in the cortical layer of sea urchin eggs during fertilization has been investigated by light microscopy using fluorescently labeled phallotoxins. The cortical layer of both whole eggs and cortices isolated on a glass surface was examined. In cortices of unfertilized eggs, numerous fluorescent spots were seen, which may correspond to short actin filament cores in microvilli. After insemination, one of the sperm-attaching points on the egg surface first became strongly fluorescent. This fluorescence grew around the point of sperm penetration with the growth of the fertilization cone. Then, the cortical layer of the egg around the fertilization cone became strongly fluorescent and the fluorescence propagated in a wavelike manner over the entire cortex. The mechanism of the propagation of actin polymerization is discussed.