The steady-state levels of six different mRNAs have been studied during Artemia franciscana development. Some of these mRNAs are present in the cryptobiotic cyst, like those coding for cytoplasmic actins, sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase, and the Na+, K(+)-ATPase alpha-subunit isoform coded by the clone pArATNa136. The expression of these mRNAs is markedly induced during cyst development. A small increase in mRNA levels can be observed for some genes at very early stages of development (2 h). The main increase is observed between 4 and 16 h of development for all these genes, although the time course of mRNA accumulation is different for each one of the genes studied. Some other genes, like those coding for muscle actin (actin 3) or the Na+, K(+)-ATPase alpha-subunit isoform coded by the cDNA clone alpha 2850, are not expressed in the cyst before resumption of development and their expression is induced after 10 or 6 h of development, respectively. These data on the kinetic of mRNA accumulation provide the information required to determine transcriptionally active developmental stages, necessary to study in more detail the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation during activation of cryptobiotic cysts and resumption of embryonic development.