Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in human eggs has been investigated by using immunoblotting with both anti-Active MAPK and anti-ERK2 antibodies. The results showed that the main form of MAP kinase was p42ERK2. It was in a dephosphorylated form in oocytes at the germinal vesicle stage, but fully phosphorylated in unfertilised mature eggs. MAP kinase phosphorylation was significantly decreased when pronuclei were formed after intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Neither MAP kinase expression nor activity was detected in morphologically degenerated eggs. Although MAP kinase still existed in early embryos arrested at the 8-cell or morula stages, little, if any, activity could be detected. These data suggest that MAP kinase may play an important role in the cell cycle regulation of human eggs, as in other mammalian species.