A key event at the onset of development is the activation of a contractile actomyosin cortex during the oocyte-to-embryo transition. We here report on the discovery that in
oocytes, actomyosin cortex activation is supported by the emergence of thousands of short-lived protein condensates rich in F-actin, N-WASP, and ARP2/3 that form an active micro-emulsion. A phase portrait analysis of the dynamics of individual cortical condensates reveals that condensates initially grow, and then switch to disassembly before dissolving completely. We find that in contrast to condensate growth via diffusion, the growth dynamics of cortical condensates are chemically driven. Remarkably, the associated chemical reactions obey mass action kinetics despite governing both composition and size. We suggest that the resultant condensate dynamic instability suppresses coarsening of the active micro-emulsion, ensures reaction kinetics that are independent of condensate size, and prevents runaway F-actin nucleation during the formation of the first cortical actin meshwork.