This study was carried out to examine how different combinations of pyruvate and glucose affect spontaneous meiotic maturation of cumulus-cell-enclosed mouse oocytes (CEO) to metaphase II (MII). Most experiments used an open system in which oocytes were cultured in 1 ml medium in plastic tubes. Initial experiments examined the dose response effects of pyruvate or glucose alone in the presence or absence of 2 mM glutamine. When medium lacked both pyruvate and glucose, more than 91% of the oocytes died in glutamine-free medium during 15 h of culture; viability was restored with the addition of glutamine, but only 11% of the CEO reached MII. In the absence of glutamine, 62–68% of oocytes completed maturation in 0.23–2.3 mM pyruvate, while 44–60% MII was observed in 0.55–27.8 mM glucose. The addition of glutamine to these cultures had a general suppressive effect on the completion of maturation. When glucose was added to pyruvate-containing cultures, the combination of 1 mM pyruvate/5.5 mM glucose was most effective in supporting maturation (about 90% MII), with little effect of glutamine. No further increase in maturation was observed when glucose was increased five-fold (to 27.8 mM). The positive effect of glucose was in part attributed to stimulation of glycolysis and increased production of pyruvate, since a reduced culture volume (8 μl), which allows the accumulation of secreted pyruvate, improved maturation in glucose-containing, but not pyruvate-containing, medium, and FSH, which stimulates glycolysis, increased progression to MII in glucose-containing, but not pyruvate-containing, medium. Yet these results also suggest that glucose has a beneficial effect on maturation apart from simple provision of pyruvate. The pyruvate effect was directly on the oocyte, because denuded oocytes responded more effectively than CEO to this energy substrate. The highest percentage of MII oocytes (96–97%) occurred in microdrop cultures containing glucose but lacking glutamine. These results indicate that glutamine supports oocyte viability but is not an adequate energy source for the completion of spontaneous meiotic maturation and may be detrimental. In addition, while pyruvate and glucose alone can each support meiotic progression of CEO to MII, optimal maturation requires the provision of both substrates to the culture medium when a large volume (1 ml) is used. It is concluded that careful attention to specific energy substrate supplementation and culture volume is important to optimise spontaneous meiotic maturation in vitro.