A previous ultrastructural study of heterologous (granulosa cell-oocyte) gap junction (GJ) contacts in ovarian follicles of Atlantic croaker suggested that these contacts disappear late during the process of resumption of oocyte meiosis. This observation suggested that, unlike scenarios proposed for a number of other species, uncoupling of GJ is not necessary for the onset of meiotic resumption in croaker follicles. However, the functionality of heterologous GJ contacts and the temporal association between maturation-inducing hormone (MIH)-induced changes in heterologous coupling and resumption of oocyte meiosis have not been examined in Atlantic croaker. These questions were addressed with a cell-cell coupling assay that is based on the transfer of a GJ marker, Lucifer Yellow, from oocytes to granulosa cells. Follicle-enclosed oocytes injected with Lucifer Yellow allowed transfer of the dye into the follicle cell layer, thus confirming that there is functional heterologous coupling between the oocyte and the granulosa cells. Dye transfer was observed in vitellogenic, full-grown/maturation-incompetent, and full-grown /maturation-competent follicles. Treatment of maturation-competent follicles with MIH caused a time-dependent decline in the number of follicles transferring dye. However, although GJ uncoupling in some of the follicles was observed before germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD, index of meiotic resumption), about 50% of the follicles maintained the ability to transfer dye even after GVBD had occurred. Further, a known GJ inhibitor (phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate) blocked heterologous GJ within a time frame similar to that seen with MIH but without inducing any of the morphological changes (including GVBD) associated with follicular maturation. In conclusion, uncoupling of heterologous GJ seems insufficient and unnecessary for the onset of meiotic resumption in ovarian follicles of Atlantic croaker. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science.