During early development of the sea urchin, the respiratory rate, enhanced upon fertilization, is maintained up to hatching (pre-hatching period) and then gradually increases to a maximum at the gastrula stage (post-gastrula period). Except for a short duration after fertilization, respiration in embryos is strongly inhibited by CN- and antimycin A. During the whole span of early development, the amounts of proteins, cytochromes and the specific activities of cytochrome c oxidase and reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) cytochrome c reductase in mitochondria are practically the same as in unfertilized eggs. A marked augmentation of mitochondrial respiration after hatching probably occurs without net increase in whole mitochondrial intrinsic capacities. Carbonylcyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP) or tetramethyl p-phenylenediamine (TMPD) enhances the respiratory rate in the pre-hatching period but hardly augments the respiration in the post-gastrula period. In the presence of both FCCP and TMPD, the respiratory rate in the pre-hatching period was as high as in the post-gastrula period. Probably, electron transport in the mitochondrial respiratory chain is regulated by acceptor control and limitation of cytochrome c reduction in the pre-hatching period and released from those regulations in the post-gastrula period. Acceptor control of respiration is experimentally reproduced in isolated mitochondria by making adenine nucleotide levels as those levels in the pre-hatching period.