Using 14CO2 as a labelled precursor the relationship between the initiation of protein and RNA synthesis, and water concentration, has been examined in cysts (encysted embryos) of the brine shrimp, Artemia salina. Although incorporation of radioactivity into amino acids and nucleotides occurred in cysts at hydrations as low as 0.3 g H2O/g dried cysts, incorporation into proteins and RNA was not measurable until the cysts had achieved a hydration in the range of 0.6-0.6 g/g. In no case was radioactivity detected in DNA of unemerged cysts. Fully hydrated cysts (about 1.3 g/g) that were actively synthesizing proteins and RNA, stopped doing so when dehydrated to levels below the same hydration range: thus, the hydration dependence does not involve appreciable hysteresis. The hydration range required to initiate synthesis of these macromolecules is essentially the same as that previously shown to initiate embryonic development.