In nuclear-transferred or round spermatid-injected oocytes, artificial activation is required for further development in mammals. Although strontium chloride is widely used as the reagent for inducing oocyte activation in mice, the optimal method for oocyte activation remains controversial in rats because ovulated rat oocytes are spontaneously activated in vitro before artificial activation is applied. In our previous study, we found that cytostatic factor activity, which is indispensable for arrest at the MII stage, is potentially low in rats and that this activity differs greatly between two outbred rats (Slc: Sprague-Dawley (SD) and Crj: Wistar). Therefore, it is necessary to establish an optimal protocol for oocyte activation independent of strains. Given that comparative studies of the in vitro development of oocytes activated by different activation protocols are very limited, we compared four different protocols for oocyte activation (ethanol, ionomycin, strontium and electrical pulses) in two different SD and Wistar rats. Our results show that oocytes derived from SD rats have significantly higher cleavage and blastocyst formation than those from Wistar rats independent of activation regimes. In both types of rat, ethanol treatment provided significantly higher developmental ability at cleavage and blastocyst formation compared to the other activation protocols. However, the initial culture in a fertilization medium (high osmolarity mR1ECM) for 24 h showed a detrimental effect on the further in vitro development of parthenogenetic rat oocytes. Taken together, our results show that ethanol treatment is the optimal protocol for the activation of rat oocytes in SD and Wistar outbred rats. Our data also suggest that high-osmolarity media are inadequate for the in vitro development of parthenogenetically activated oocytes compared with fertilized oocytes.