To avoid multiple pregnancies without compromising pregnancy rates (PR) is a challenge in assisted reproduction. We have compared pregnancy results among 74 elective one-embryo transfers (group 2) and 94 transfers where only one embryo was available (group 1). All the fresh embryo cycles during 1997 in two clinics in Helsinki were analysed, and cumulative PR among these couples after frozen-thawed embryo transfers up to June 1998 were counted. In group 2, where at least two embryos were available for transfer, and only one was transferred on day 2 or 3, the PR per embryo transfer was 29.7%. In group 1, the PR per embryo transfer was 20.2%. In group 2, the cumulative PR after frozen-thawed embryo transfers was 47.3% per oocyte retrieval. Over the same time, 742 two-embryo transfers were carried out. The PR per embryo transfer was 29.4% in these subjects, but 23.9% of these pregnancies were twins. The implantation rates, as well as the PR, were highest when the embryos were at the four- to five-cell stage on day 2 (35.8 versus 9.7% compared with the two- to three-cell stage, P < 0.001) or at the six- to eight-cell stage on day 3 (45.5%). The PR per embryo transfer was higher when a grade 1 or 2 embryo was transferred compared with a grade three embryo (34. 0 and 26.7% versus 8.8% respectively, P < 0.05). In women 35 years or younger, the PR per elective one-embryo transfer was 32.8%. The corresponding figure in women older than 35 years was 18.8%. On the basis of these results, elective one-embryo transfer can be highly recommended, at least in subjects who are younger than 35 years of age, and who have grade one or grade two embryos available for transfer.