Quark is sexually harassing his newest dabo girl, Aluura, when Rom rushes in announcing that Ferenginar has gone completely silent, suggesting that it's been invaded. But the brothers' fears are assuaged when Grand Nagus Zek and Ishka arrive on a shuttle to reveal a completely different problem: Zek has granted civil rights to female Ferengi and promptly got deposed by Brunt. They have only three days to prevent Brunt from being confirmed as Nagus.
In spite of his misgivings over women's rights, Quark joins the others in inviting powerful Ferengi to visit the station and hear Ishka's pitch. All except one refuse: Nilva, a beverage magnate and highly influential commissioner. Making things worse, in walks Acting Nagus Brunt himself, ready to sabotage Ishka's efforts with Nilva. Stressed out, Quark has it out with his mother, accusing her of manipulating Zek since they first met. When Ishka starts berating Quark, she has a heart attack and collapses. She receives a new heart from Dr. Bashir but is in no state to meet Nilva. Zek decides that Quark will take her place.
Bashir gives Quark a sex-change operation so that he can pass himself off as Ishka. Quark becomes sensitive over his appearance and receives pointers on how to act more feminine. Nilva arrives early, and Nog tries to stall him to give Quark more time to prepare, but the magnate is fascinated by the prospect of meeting a clothed female businesswoman and won't be deterred. Brunt lets slip that Ishka is in the hospital, so our heroes claim that Nilva will be meeting another Ferengi businesswoman: Lumba.
"Lumba" and Nilva meet, and Quark gives his pitch that women entering the workforce will mean twice as much production and consumption, doubling Ferenginar's business opportunities. Nilva is impressed as well as titillated by Quark's presentation. He drags Quark back to his quarters and tries to have his way with him as the barkeep desperately tries to beg off. Brunt finally bursts in and announces that Quark is actually a man. Quark proves his femininity by flashing them both and then kissing Nilva. Smitten, Nilva decides to side with Zek because "it's what Lumba wants."
Afterward, Quark is restored to manhood and reconciles with his mother, but the lingering feminine hormones have made him sentimental toward Nilva, and he cries on Odo's shoulder. When Aluura returns to Quark, having learned how to do oo-mox at his demand, he guiltily tells her he was wrong to make such demands and gives her a raise. When Aluura seems disappointed, Quark still sends her away, but after a moment of contemplation, he rushes off after her.
- Abhorrent Admirer: The amorous Nilva chases Quark around like a classic slapstick example.
- Acceptable Professional Targets: The scene with Quark, Rom, and Nog contacting all of Grand Nagus Zek's associates is essentially a spoof on telemarketing.
- Aesop Amnesia:
- Quark seems to learn a lesson about women at the end when he decides not to force Aluura to have sex with him, but he doesn't seem to retain this lesson in later episodes. This was the primary reason Armin Shimerman hated this episode.
- Quark and Ishka's relationship doesn't seem to have developed after all they've been through. Quark is just as stubbornly opposed to Ishka's civil rights stance as ever, and they're still barely on speaking terms even after several episodes of reconciliation.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Aluura seems disappointed at not being forced to give Quark oo-mox.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Zek describes Quark in such terms.
- Blatant Lies: After Quark lies that he did nothing to provoke Ishka's heart attack, Bashir cuts in to say that Ishka keeps repeating, "It's all Quark's fault." After an awkward beat, Quark lamely says, "I wonder what that could mean."
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Nilva is an odd Ferengi who makes a habit of handing out free Sluggo-Colas to everyone he meets, going as far as carrying a big duffle bag full of bottles.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Brunt spends the episode gloating to Quark and company on Deep Space Nine, even though he should be on Ferenginar, because he's expected to become Nagus in less than two days.
- Continuity Nod:
- The events of several previous Ferengi episodes are mentioned.
- The episode title itself is a reference to the earlier Ferengi episode "Profit and Loss."
- Didn't Think This Through: Zek admits it was a stupid move to give Brunt his job back.
- Disguised in Drag: Quark.
- Easy Sex Change: Apparently you can get gender reassignment surgery in an outpatient visit, and swap back just as quickly. The hormones are a bit tricky, however; after switching back Quark's have yet to balance out and he ends up giving Odo a tearful hug.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He takes great offense to one person's comments while trying to find allies for Zek.Quark: That "female" happens to be my mother!
- Funny Background Event: Brunt and Zek's Hupyrian servants square off with each other in the background when Brunt first confronts Zek.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Ishka suddenly stops talking and pitches backward like a falling tree when she has a heart attack.
- Insistent Terminology: It's not "Grand Nagus Brunt", it's "Acting Grand Nagus Brunt"!
- Larynx Dissonance: Quark has trouble sounding feminine.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Quark starts out the episode sexually harassing a woman and then feels what it's like to be on the other side by the end.
- Mandatory Line: The scene where Quark and Rom speak to the DS9 crew at Ops is done solely to provide the non-Ferengi characters their screentime. Dr. Bashir gets his mandatory line after operating on Ishka, since Alexander Siddig was directing the episode, too.
- Mood Whiplash: Goes from cross-dressing comedy to discussing the rights of women and back to comedy. This was aggravated by Alexander Siddig's direction, since he was under the impression that the piece would work better as a drama and so a number of scenes were shot to play up the dramatic side rather than be funny.
- Parental Favoritism: Ishka freely states that she likes Rom more than Quark.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Ishka convinces Zek to promote female rights by pointing out their untapped economic potential.Zek: Face it, Quark. It's good business. For thousands of years, Ferenginar has allowed a valuable resource to go to waste.Quark: Females? A valuable resource?Zek: They make up 53.5% of the population and contribute virtually nothing to gross planetary income. I say it's time they started pulling their own weight!
- Running Gag: "Acting Grand Nagus!"
- Sexual Extortion: Quark suggests Aluura should should read Oo-mox for Fun and Profit if she wants to keep her job. At least he's not writing it explicitly in her contract like he was doing in season 1.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Ishka. Barely half a season ago, Quark risked his life to rescue her from the Dominion. Now, she's gone back to chastising him.