Mating elicits two reactions in many insect females: egg deposition is increased and receptivity to males is reduced. Central to the control of receptivity and oviposition in Drosophila melanogaster is the sex peptide (SP), a 36-amino-acid peptide sex pheromone synthesized in the male accessory glands and transferred to the female during copulation. To identify regulatory mechanisms involved in the maintenance of the oviposition response, we have compared the effects of mating and SP application with respect to oogenesis. The distribution of the various stages of oogenesis in the ovary, yolk protein (YP) synthesis by the fat body, as well as YP content, uptake and synthesis by the ovary were investigated. Transcripts of the yolk protein genes (yp) were quantified by Northern blotting. Based on our results, we conclude that mating and SP injection into virgin females stimulate yp gene transcription in the fat body only moderately above the background level. However, uptake into the ovary and transcription of the yp genes in the ovary is strongly enhanced after either mating or SP injection. These data are supported by the finding that the abundance of the vitellogenic stage 10 oocytes is also increased. In contrast, early vitellogenic stages 8 and 9 of oogenesis are present in the same numbers in virgin, mated, and SP-injected females, which suggests a control point at about stage 9 determining vitellogenic oocyte progression. The finding that SP can elicit equally all changes observed after copulation suggests that in the sexually mature female it is the major component controlling and stimulating oogenesis after mating.