Abstract In vitro production (IVP) of porcine embryos including in vitro maturation (IVM) of oocytes followed by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and in vitro culture (IVC) of the resultant embryos may result in live offspring, but it is still associated with great inefficiencies probably due to incomplete cytoplasmic maturation of the oocytes in vitro. Therefore, fundamental knowledge on the regulation of transcription during the oocyte growth phase when the messengers and protein synthetic machinery necessary for oocyte developmental competence are formed, is of great importance. In mammals, synthesis of RNA, up to 60–70% of which is ribosomal (rRNA), increases during oocyte growth and reaches a peak at the beginning of follicular antrum formation. In oocytes at the end of the growth phase, acquisition of full meiotic competence coincides with a markedly decreased rRNA transcriptional activity in the gametes. Our recent studies on the porcine oocyte growth phase have revealed a deeper molecular and biological insight into the complex regulation of rRNA transcription at different stages of follicular development. The data indicate that the so-called pocket protein, p130, is involved in the down-regulation of rRNA transcription at the end of the oocyte growth phase through an inhibition of the action of upstream binding factor (UBF). The latter protein is necessary for the function of RNA polymerase I (RNA Pol I), which is the actual enzyme driving rRNA gene transcription. Moreover, rRNA transcription also appears to be down-regulated by a decrease in the expression of mRNA encoding PAF53, an RNA Pol I-associated factor also required for the polymerase to exert its action. At the ultrastructural level, these molecular changes are paralleled by marginalization of the fibrillar centres of the oocyte nucleolus followed by compaction of the nucleolus into an inactive sphere of fibrils.