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Early in the spawning season female D. excentricus can be induced to spawn oocytes in the late stages of oogenesis. Observations with light microscopy indicate that pigment cells migrate in the jelly coat away from the surface of oocytes coincident with the final growth of the oocyte and its maturation. The pigment cells undergo a series of changes in shape and the oocyte elaborates arrays of long microvilli as the cells elevate from the surface of the oocyte. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations of oocytes fixed within the ovary indicate that features of the sequence observed in the spawned oocytes normally take place within the ovary, prior to spawning. Extracts of the pigment cells induce a low level of germinal vesicle breakdown in asteroid oocytes. It is proposed that these cells are homologous to the follicle cells of other echinoderms and are involved in stimulating the maturation of oocytes.