Little is known about the control of events ending the lengthy prophase of meiosis I and leading to the G2/M-phase transition in mammalian spermatocytes, primarily because the relevant late pachytene, diplotene, and MI cells are present in low numbers in the testis and it is not possible to isolate them in significant numbers. We have utilized short-term cultures of pachytene spermatocytes from the mouse to study events of the G2/M cell-cycle transition induced by the protein phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid (OA). Treatment of cultured pachytene spermatocytes with OA induced a rapid and premature onset of events leading to the M phase, visualized cytologically by nuclear envelope breakdown and chromosome condensation. After OA treatment, condensed chromosomes were seen as bivalents, not as univalents. Treatment with OA induced disassembly of synaptonemal complexes and resolution of crossovers as cytologically visible chiasmata. Chiasmata counts were similar in treated cells and control cells. Thus, surprisingly, even though the treated cells were in the pachytene substage of meiotic prophase, events of recombination were apparently completed to the point of chiasma formation in the majority of these cells. The sex chromosomes, forming the sex body of the pachytene spermatocyte, lagged behind the autosomal chromosomes in their condensation and progression toward the M phase. Treatment with OA induced an increase in histone H1 kinase activity, generally used as an indicator of metaphase-promoting factor (MPF) activity; furthermore, the OA-induced cell-cycle transition does not require new protein synthesis. These results suggest that OA treatment overrides a cell-cycle checkpoint control that normally keeps pachytene spermatocytes in a lengthy prophase and that this control may be exerted by regulation of protein phosphorylation status.