Uptake of the four ribonucleosides normally present in RNA increases nearly 50-fold shortly after fertilization in eggs of the sea-urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Uridine, adenosine and cytidine are phosphorylated (>95%) to their mono-, di- and triphosphates immediately after transport into the fertilized egg. Although guanosine is transported to an extent equal to the other three ribonucleosides, less than 12% of it is phosphorylated after transport. In vitro nucleoside and nucleotide kinase assays of unfertilized egg homogenates indicate that the uridine, adenosine and cytidine kinases as well as the uridylate, adenylate, cytidylate and guanylate kinases are present in the egg prior to fertilization. Substrate competition measurements indicate that adenosine phosphorylation is catalyzed by a monospecific enzyme, while uridine and cytidine phosphorylations are catalyzed by a common kinase. Guanosine kinase activity was not detectable in unfertilized egg homogenates. Between 3 h and 5 h after fertilization the phosphorylation of transported guanosine begins to increase as it enters the embryo. By 7 h after fertilization, more than 95% of the guanosine entering the embryo is phosphorylated to the mono-, di-and triphosphates. More than 80% is phosphorylated to guanosine triphosphate. The timing of increased guanosine phosphorylation correlates with a decrease in the acid-soluble GTP pools in the embryo, suggesting that increased guanosine kinase activity is a response to increased GTP demand. These results, in view of the importance of GTP in many cellular processes, imply a crucial role for guanosine kinase activation in GTP pool maintenance and cellular metabolism during early sea-urchin development.