Estrogen inhibition of oocyte maturation (OM) and the role of GPER (formerly known as GPR30) were investigated in zebrafish. Estradiol-17beta (E2) and G-1, a GPER-selective agonist, bound to zebrafish oocyte membranes suggesting the presence of GPER which was confirmed by immunocytochemistry using a specific GPER antibody. Incubation of follicle-enclosed oocytes with an aromatase inhibitor, ATD, and enzymatic and manual removal of the ovarian follicle cell layers significantly increased spontaneous OM which was partially reversed by co-treatment with either 100 nM E2 or G-1. Incubation of denuded oocytes with the GPER antibody blocked the inhibitory effects of estrogens on OM, whereas microinjection of estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) antisense oligonucleotides into the oocytes was ineffective. The results suggest that endogenous estrogens produced by the follicle cells inhibit or delay spontaneous maturation of zebrafish oocytes and that this estrogen action is mediated through GPER. Treatment with E2 and G-1 also attenuated the stimulatory effect of the teleost maturation-inducing steroid, 17,20beta-dihyroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (DHP), on OM. Moreover, E2 and G-1 down-regulated the expression of membrane progestin receptor alpha (mPRalpha), the intermediary in DHP induction of OM. Conversely DHP treatment caused a >50% decline in GPER mRNA levels. The results suggest that estrogens and GPER are critical components of the endocrine system controlling the onset of OM in zebrafish. A model is proposed for the dual control of the onset of oocyte maturation in teleosts by estrogens and progestins acting through GPER and mPRalpha, respectively, at different stages of oocyte development.