Nuclei of embryonic red blood cells (e-RBC) from 12-day mouse fetuses are arrested in Go phase of the cell cycle and have low transcriptional activity. These nuclei were transferred with help of polyethylene glycol (PEG)-mediated fusion to parthenogenetically activated mouse oocytes and heterokaryons were analysed for nuclear structure and transcriptional activity. If fusion proceeded 25–45 min after oocyte activation, e-RBC nuclei were induced to nuclear envelope breakdown and partial chromatin condensation, followed by formation of nuclei structurally identical with pronuclei. These ‘pronuclei’, similar to egg (female) pronuclei, remained transcriptionally silent over several hours of in vitro culture. If fusion was performed 1 h or later (up to 7 h) after activation, the nuclear envelope of e-RBC nuclei remained intact and nuclear remodelling was less spectacular (slight chromatin decondensation, formation of nucleolus precursor bodies). These nuclei, however, reinforced polymerase-II-dependent transcription within a few hours of in vitro culture. Our present experiments, together with our previous work, demonstrate that nuclear envelope breakdown/maintenance are critical events for nuclear remodelling in activated mouse oocytes and that somatic dormant nuclei can be stimulated to renew transcription at a time when the female pronucleus remains transcriptionally silent.