c-mos protein, encoded by a proto-oncogene, is essential for the meiotic maturation of frog oocytes. Polyadenylation of c-mos messenger RNA is shown here to be a pivotal regulatory step in meiotic maturation. Maturation is prevented by selective amputation of polyadenylation signals from c-mos mRNA. Injection of a prosthetic RNA, which restores c-mos polyadenylation signals by base pairing to the amputated mRNA, rescues maturation and can stimulate translation in trans. Prosthetic RNAs may provide a general strategy by which to alter patterns of mRNA expression in vivo.