Cloning technology would allow targeted genetic alterations in the rat, a species which is yet unaccessible for such studies due to the lack of germline-competent embryonic stem cells. The present study was performed to examine the developmental ability of reconstructed rat embryos after transfer of nuclei from early preimplantation stages. We observed that single blastomeres from two-cell embryos and zygotes reconstructed by pronuclei exchange can develop in vitro until morula/blastocyst stage. When karyoplasts from blastomeres were used for the reconstruction of embryos, highest in vitro cleavage rates were obtained with nuclei in an early phase of the cell cycle transferred into enucleated preactivated oocytes or zygotes. However, further in vitro development of reconstructed embryos produced from blastomere nuclei was arrested at early cleavage stages under all conditions tested in this study. In contrast, immediate transfer to foster mothers of reconstructed embryos with nuclei from two-cell embryos at an early stage of the cell cycle in preactivated enucleated oocytes resulted in live newborn rats, with a general efficiency of 0.4%-2.2%. The genetic origin of the cloned offspring was verified by using donor nuclei from embryos of Black Hooded Wistar rats and transgenic rats carrying an ubiquitously expressed green fluorescent protein transgene. Thus, we report for the first time the production of live cloned rats using nuclei from two-cell embryos.