The Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase plays a pivotal role during preimplantation development; it establishes a trans-epithelial ionic gradient that facilitates the formation of the fluid-filled blastocyst cavity, crucial for implantation and successful pregnancy. The Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase is also implicated in regulating tight junctions and cardiotonic steroid (CTS)-induced signal transduction via SRC. We investigated the expression of SRC family kinase (SFK) members, Src and Yes, during preimplantation development and determined whether SFK activity is required for blastocyst formation. Embryos were collected following super-ovulation of CD1 or MF1 female mice. RT-PCR was used to detect SFK mRNAs encoding Src and Yes throughout preimplantation development. SRC and YES protein were localized throughout preimplantation development. Treatment of mouse morulae with the SFK inhibitors PP2 and SU6656 for 18 hours resulted in a reversible blockade of progression to the blastocyst stage. Blastocysts treated with 10(-3) M ouabain for 2 or 10 minutes and immediately immunostained for phosphorylation at SRC tyr418 displayed reduced phosphorylation while in contrast blastocysts treated with 10(-4) M displayed increased tyr418 fluorescence. SFK inhibition increased and SFK activation reduced trophectoderm tight junction permeability in blastocysts. The results demonstrate that SFKs are expressed during preimplantation development and that SFK activity is required for blastocyst formation and is an important mediator of trophectoderm tight junction permeability.