The unfertilized egg envelope of medaka (Oryzias latipes) consists of two major groups of subunits, ZI-1,2 (74–76 kDa) and ZI-3 (49kDa). During egg envelope hardening after egg activation, both subunit groups decreased in amount, new protein bands of 57–65, 110 and 125 kDa appeared and, finally, no bands were detectable on sodium dodecylsulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The 110 and 125 kDa bands are intermediates formed by polymerization of such subunit groups. In contrast, treatment with iodoacetamide, an inhibitor of polymerization, revealed that the 57–65 kDa intermediates originated from ZI-1,2 by limited hydrolysis. ZI-1,2 comprises at least three distinct proteins of quite similar structure with their N-termini undetectable by Edman degradation, while the 57–65 kDa intermediates also consist of at least three proteins with the same N-terminal amino acid sequence: DGKPSNPQQPQVPQYPSK-. This fact strongly suggests a participation of a protease in the conversion of ZI-1,2 into 57–65 kDa proteins. EDTA and 1,10-phenanthrolinium inhibited the conversion and both Ca2+ and Zn2+ recovered the inhibition. These results suggest that the assumed protease is a metalloprotease.