This preliminary analysis was designed to quantify blastocyst development of supernumerary embryos without the use of feeder cells, conditioned medium or whole serum. Embryos derived from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) that were not transferred or cryopreserved were included in this study. Ova were harvested for IVF after a standard ovarian stimulation with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonist/ human menopausal gonadotrophin (GnRHa/HMG) or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Ova were collected and culture in 150 microliters droplets of P1 medium under mineral oil, in groups at 37 degrees C under 5% CO2, 5% O2, 90% N2 (group A) or under 5% CO2 in air (group B) environment. Embryo transfer was performed 72 h post-harvest. Viable embryos not transferred or cryopreserved were placed in blastocyst medium and cultured for an additional 48 h in 5% CO2 in air. Embryos that exhibited an expanded blastocoelic cavity and well-defined inner cell mass at 120 h were counted. Of 838 supernumerary embryos cultured, 448 (53.5%) reached the expanded blastocyst stage by 120 h of culture. Patients were given the option of cryopreservation at that time. The embryos were cryopreserved using a standard protocol with serial addition of glycerol. Embryos reaching the blastocyst stage after more than 120 h of culture were not included. There was no difference in the proportions of blastocyst development between group A, 217/410 (53.5%) and group B, 231/428 (54%). To date, 16 patients have each had up to three thawed blastocysts transferred, out of whom seven became pregnant. This report demonstrates that a simple system of sequential culture generated acceptable, viable blastocyst development (54%) with supernumerary embryos, without the use of feeder cells, conditioned medium or whole serum. Recognizing the differential metabolic requirements of early and late cleavage stage embryos has enabled the application of a glucose/phosphate-free simple culture medium (P1) for up to 72 h of culture and a complex, glucose-containing medium (blastocyst medium) for subsequent blastocyst development.