Progesterone is considered as the physiological steroid hormone that triggers meiosis reinitiation in amphibian oocytes. Nevertheless, isolated oocytes can be induced to undergo germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) in a saline medium by means of treatment with various hormones or inducing agents such as other steroid hormones, insulin or an insulin-like growth factor. It has been demonstrated that Bufo arenarum oocytes obtained during the reproductive period (spring–summer) resume meiosis with no need of an exogenous hormonal stimulus if deprived of their enveloping follicle cells, a phenomenon called spontaneous maturation. This study was undertaken to evaluate the participation of the purine and phosphoinositide pathway in the insulin-induced maturation of oocytes competent and incompetent to mature spontaneously, as well as to determine whether the activation of the maturation promoting factor (MPF) involved the activation of cdc25 phosphatase in Bufo arenarum denuded oocytes. Our results indicate that insulin was able to induce GBVD in oocytes incompetent to mature spontaneously and to enhance spontaneous and progesterone-induced maturation. In addition, high intracellular levels of purines such as cAMP or guanosine can reversibly inhibit the progesterone and insulin-induced maturation process in Bufo arenarum as well as spontaneous maturation. Assays of the inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) hydrolysis and its turnover by neomycin and lithium chloride respectively exhibited a different response in insulin- or progesterone-treated oocytes, suggesting that phosphoinositide turnover or hydrolysis of PIP2 is involved in progesterone- but not in insulin-induced maturation. In addition, the inhibitory effect of vanadate suggests that an inactive pre-maturation promoting factor (pre-MPF), activated by dephosphorylation of Thr-14 and Tyr-15 on p34cdc2, is present in Bufo arenarum full-grown oocytes; this step would be common to both spontaneous and hormone-induced maturation. The data presented here strongly suggest that insulin initiates at the cell surface a chain of events leading to GVBD. However, our studies point to the existence of certain differences between the steroid and the peptide hormone pathways, although both involve the decrease in intracellular levels of cAMP, the activation of phosphodiesterase (PDE) and the activation of pre-MPF.