The animal and vegetal ends of Xenopus oocytes have distinctly different developmental fates. At the molecular level, several maternal mRNAs have been isolated that are localized to either the animal or vegetal hemisphere. One of these mRNAs, Vg1, is distributed homogeneously throughout the cytoplasm of early-stage oocytes and gets localized during oogenesis to a tight shell at the vegetal cortex of middle and late-stage oocytes. We have used an in vitro culture system to demonstrate that exogeneous Vg1 mRNA injected into middle-stage, but not late-stage, oocytes gets localized in a similar fashion to the endogenous message. Furthermore, translation of Vg1 mRNA is not required for the localization of the message itself. These results show that the information necessary to interpret the animal-vegetal polarity in oocytes is present in the naked mRNA transcript.