We study the latent heat of the liquid-gas phase transition in symmetric nuclear matter using self-consistent mean-field calculations with a few Skyrme forces. The temperature dependence of the latent heat is rather independent of the mean-field parametrization and can be characterized by a few parameters. At low temperatures, the latent heat tends to the saturation energy. Near the critical point, the latent heat goes to zero with a well-determined mean-field critical exponent. A maximum value of the latent heat in the range l ~ 25-30 MeV is found at intermediate temperatures, which might have experimental relevance. All these features can be explained from very basic principles.