With the aim of investigating the effects of oocyte genotype and activating stimulus on the timing of nuclear events after activation, oocytes collected from hybrid B6D2F1, inbred C57BL/6 and outbred CF-1 and immunodeficient nude (NU/+) females were activated using ethanol or strontium and fixed at various time-points. Meiotic status, spindle rotation and second polar body (PB2) extrusion were monitored by fluorescence microscopy using DNA-, microtubule- and microfilament-selective probes. Although activation efficiency was similar in all groups of oocytes, a significant percentage of CF-1 and NU/+ oocytes treated with ethanol and of C57BL/6 oocytes treated either with ethanol or strontium failed to complete activation and became arrested at a new metaphase stage (MIII) after PB2 extrusion. C57BL/6 oocytes also showed slower release from MII arrest but faster progression to telophase (TII) after ethanol exposure, and they exhibited the most rapid exit from TII under both activation treatments. Strontium caused delayed meiotic resumption, spindle rotation and PB2 extrusion, but rapid TII exit, in B6D2F1, CF-1 and NU/+ oocytes when compared with ethanol. Compared with all other strains, NU/+ oocytes were significantly slower in completing spindle rotation and PB2 extrusion, irrespective of the activating stimulus, and a significant decrease in activation rates and pace of meiotic progression was observed after strontium exposure. Thus, our findings demonstrated that the kinetics of meiosis resumption and completion, spindle rotation and PB2 extrusion following parthenogenetic activation depends on both genotype-specific factors and on the activation treatment applied. © 2005 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.