Two signals activate meiosis in yeast: starvation and expression of the a1 and alpha 2 products of the mating-type locus. Prior studies suggest that these signals stimulate expression of an activator of meiosis, the IME1 (inducer of meiosis) product. We have cloned a gene, IME2, with properties similar to those of IME1: both genes are required for meiosis, and both RNAs are induced in meiotic cells. Elevated dosage of IME1 or IME2 stimulates the meiotic recombination pathway without starvation; thus, the IME products may be part of the switch that activates meiosis. IME1 was found to be required for IME2 expression, and a multicopy IME2 plasmid permitted meiosis in an ime1 deletion mutant. Accordingly, we propose that the IME1 product stimulates meiosis mainly through activation of IME2 expression.