Oocytes accumulate a dowry of maternal mRNAs in preparation for embryogenesis. These maternal transcripts are kept dormant until late oogenesis or early embryogenesis when their translation is activated. In recent years, three types of translational control acting on maternal mRNAs have emerged: translational activation by cytoplasmic polyadenylation, translational activation by RNA localization, and regulated translational repression. In each case, translational control depends on the binding of trans-acting factors to sequences in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR). Identification of these trans-acting factors is beginning to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that mediate translational control.