Effective tubal transport of ova, sperm and embryos is a prerequisite for successful spontaneous pregnancy. Although there is much yet to be discovered about the mechanisms involved, it is evident that tubal transit is a far more complicated process than initially thought. Propulsion of gametes and embryos is achieved by complex interaction between muscle contractions, ciliary activity and the flow of tubal secretions. Evidence is accumulating of the important and possibly pre-eminent role of ciliary motion in this process; and this review describes current knowledge about ciliary activity and its physiological regulation. There is also a description of the effects on ciliary function of cigarette smoking and various pathological states, including endometriosis and microbial infection, with consideration given as to how altered ciliary activity may impact upon fertility.