Plasminogen activators (PAs) are highly specific serine proteases that convert the extracellular zymogen plasminogen into the active proteinase plasmin. Plasminogen-dependent proteolytic activity was detected by zymography both in the tissue membrane fraction of oviducts and in the oviductal flushing obtained at the preovulatory (Pre-Ov), postovulatory (Post-Ov) and mid-luteal (Mid-L) stages of the estrous cycle. A main proteolytic band, with a relative mobility similar to a human melanoma cell tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), was found in all samples. Two additional components were observed in Pre-Ov and Post-Ov oviductal flushing but not in the tissue membrane fraction. In the oviductal flushing the PA activity was significantly higher in the Post-Ov stage than in the Pre-Ov one. Both urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA, 50 kDa) and t-PA (72 kDa) were detected by Western blot; they showed differences in their relative concentration between Post-Ov and Pre-Ov oviductal flushing. The main PA substrate, plasminogen, was detected by indirect immunofluorescence in the cumulus cell extracellular matrix (ECM) and oocyte zona pellucida (ZP). In denuded oocytes, plasminogen was also detected on the surface of the plasma membrane. It is possible that oviductal PAs may act on the plasminogen present in the cumulus cell ECM and ZP; consequently, the generated plasmin could be involved in the rebuilding or degradation of these oocyte structures during fertilization or early development.