Injection of mammalian sperm extracts or cRNA of the sperm-specific phospholipase C zeta 1 (PLCZ1) has been shown to trigger repetitive oscillations in the concentration of free calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)), leading to oocyte activation and embryo development in all mammals studied to date. While PLCZ1 has cross-species activity, it has also been observed that species-specific differences may exist in the frequency and pattern of the resulting [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations following PLCZ1 cRNA injection into oocytes of different species. Accordingly, we used a crossover design strategy to directly investigate the activity of murine and bovine PLCZ1 in both murine and bovine oocytes. In murine oocytes, injection of murine Plcz1 cRNA induced [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations at 10-fold lower concentrations than bovine PLCZ1, although in bovine oocytes bovine PLCZ1 was more effective than murine Plcz1 at inducing [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations. Investigation of ITPR1 (IP(3)R1) down-regulation in bovine oocytes by PLCZ1 cRNA also showed that bovine PLCZ1 was more active in homologous oocytes. To determine whether these PLCZs exhibited similar cellular distribution, Venus-tagged PLCZ1 cRNA was injected into oocytes, and PLCZ1 was overexpressed. Bovine PLCZ1 failed to accumulate in the pronucleus (PN) of bovine or murine zygotes, despite possessing a putative nuclear localization signal. Conversely, murine PLCZ1 accumulated in the PN of both murine and bovine zygotes. These results demonstrate that murine PLCZ1 and bovine PLCZ1 possess species-specific differences in activity and suggest potential differences in the mode of action of the protein between the two species. Variation in sperm PLCZ1 protein content among species, along with oocyte-specific differences in the localization and availability of PLCZ1 substrates, may further contribute to optimize the activation stimulus to enhance embryo development.