The general aim of our in vitro experiments was to study the role of the metabolic hormones leptin, ghrelin, obestatin and IGF-I and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent intracellular mechanisms in the control of nuclear maturation of porcine oocytes. For this purpose, porcine oocytes were isolated from the ovary and cultured in the presence of leptin, ghrelin, obestatin, IGF-I, MAPK blocker PD98059 and the combinations of hormones with PD98059. Proportions of matured oocytes (at metaphase II of meiosis, determined by DAPI staining) and of oocytes containing MAPK/ERK1-2 (determined by immunocytochemistry) were measured before and after culture. It was observed that the majority of oocytes isolated from the ovary before culture were immature and did not contain visible MAPK, but some oocytes were mature, and the majority of these oocytes contained MAPK. Incubation of oocytes resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of matured oocytes and in the percentage of oocytes containing MAPK in both the matured and not matured groups. Addition of IGF-I to the culture medium increased the proportion of matured oocytes, addition of leptin decreased it, and ghrelin and obestatin did not oocyte maturation. Addition of hormones did not affect the expression of MAPK in either immature or mature oocytes. PD98059, when given alone, suppressed the maturation and accumulation of MAPK in both mature and immature oocytes. When given together with hormones, PD98059 was able to reduce the stimulatory effect of IGF-I, to invert the inhibitory action of leptin to stimulatory and to induce the stimulatory action of ghrelin and obestatin on meiosis. IGF-I, ghrelin and obestatin, but not leptin, when given together with PD98059, increased the accumulation of MAPK in both immature and mature oocytes. Association of nuclear maturation and expression of MAPK in oocytes before, but not after culture, as well as the prevention of oocyte maturation by MAPK blocker suggests the involvement of MAPK-dependent intracellular mechanisms in the promotion of reinitiation, but not completion of meiosis. The effect of hormonal additions on meiosis of oocytes suggests that IGF-I is a stimulator, leptin can be an inhibitor, while ghrelin and obestatin probably do not control oocyte maturation. The ability of PD98059 to modify the effect of hormones on oocyte maturation and on MAPK expression suggests possible interference of hormones and MAPK-dependent intracellular mechanisms in oocytes. However, no influence of hormones on MAPK and lack of association between action of hormones and PD98059 on MAPK and meiosis suggest that MAPK is probably not a mediator of effect of IGF-I, leptin, ghrelin and obestatin on porcine oocyte nuclear maturation.