The actions of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), 8-bromo-cyclic AMP (8-Br-cAMP), and low density lipoprotein (LDL) to stimulate the production of progesterone and the synthesis of cholesterol side chain cleavage cytochrome P-450 (cytochrome P-450ssc) and adrenodoxin were investigated in bovine granulosa cells maintained in primary monolayer culture. Treatment of granulosa cells in culture with FSH resulted in an increased incorporation of [35S]methionine into immunoprecipitable cytochrome P-450scc in a concentration-dependent fashion with a maximal effect being obtained at an FSH concentration of 500 ng/ml. Treatment of granulosa cells with FSH also resulted in the induction of synthesis of adrenodoxin. The cyclic AMP analog, 8-Br-cAMP, induced the synthesis of both cytochrome P-450scc and adrenodoxin to a greater extent than did FSH. LDL also stimulated the synthesis of both cytochrome P-450scc and adrenodoxin, when added to cells maintained in the presence of lipoprotein-poor serum. The presence of FSH or 8-Br-cAMP together with LDL resulted in a higher rate of enzyme synthesis than that observed with each effector alone. FSH, 8-Br-cAMP, and LDL also stimulated progesterone production by cultured granulosa cells. The results of this study offer a possible mechanism whereby granulosa cells undergo cytodifferentiation in vivo into luteal cells. The concentration of LDL in follicular fluid is very low. Following ovulation, vascularization of the follicle occurs and thus the granulosa cells are exposed to high levels of LDL, allowing for provision of substrate cholesterol, as well as stimulation of the synthesis of the enzymes involved in cholesterol side chain cleavage.