Embryos from XO female mice begin development with half the activity levels of an enzyme (HPRT) coded for by a gene on the X chromosome, compared with embryos from XX females. Groups of unfertilized eggs and individual embryos at the 8-cell, morula and blastocyst stages were assayed for HPRT activity. An autosomally coded enzyme (APRT) was assayed simultaneously in the same reaction mix as a control. There is a substantial increase in HPRT activity by the 8-cell stage. However, the mean activity of HPRT in embryos of XO mothers remains half that in embryos of XX mothers. This suggests a significant maternally inherited component of HPRT activity in 8-cell embryos. By the 9- to 16-cell morula stage the HPRT activities in the two groups of embryos become similar due, presumably, to a transition to embryo-coded activity; HPRT activities in individual morulae from XX mothers show a bimodal distribution consistent with the hypothesis that both X-chromosomes are active in XX embryos at this stage.