The effects of inhibitors of follicular steroidogenesis on biochemical changes occurring in oocytes maturing in vitro were studied using radiolabelling and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. These effects were correlated with previously investigated developmental abnormalities induced by the same inhibitors. The most severe effects were generated by inhibition of 17 alpha-hydroxylase with the drug SU10603 which resulted in a greatly increased ratio of progesterone to testosterone and oestrogen. Such treatment halved the rate of meiotic maturation. Treated oocytes were analysed individually on SDS-PAGE gels and quantitative analysis showed that the drug had induced synthetic abnormalities even in those oocytes that resumed meiosis. This conclusion was confirmed by separation of oocyte proteins on two-dimensional gels. The effects of SU were reduced by delaying addition of the drug until 6h after the beginning of maturation but were not alleviated by the addition of exogenous oestrogen to the culture medium. When oocytes from SU-treated follicles were transferred to inseminated, recipient ewes and recovered 24h later, two-dimensional electrophoresis again revealed abnormalities in their protein synthetic patterns. Almost total abolition of steroid secretion by aminoglutethimide (AG) had much less effect on oocyte protein synthesis, although the proportion of oocytes maturing was reduced from 65% to 46%. The aromatase inhibitor, androstatriendione (AST) although eliminating follicular oestrogen secretion, had no effect on the rate of maturation and very little effect on protein synthesis. These results correlate well with the effects of steroid inhibitors on fertilization and early cleavage.