Embryos were collected from superovulated donors at various intervals from onset of oestrus, ranging from Day 1.5 to Day 6. In addition, blastocysts obtained from the culture of 1-cell embryos collected in vivo or of oocytes matured and fertilized in vitro were used to assess the effects of in vitro manipulation and culture on glucose utilization. Glycolytic activity was determined by the conversion of [5-3H]glucose to 3H2O, and oxidation of glucose was determined by the conversion of [U-14C]glucose to 14CO2. Glucose utilization increases significantly from the 8-cell stage and during compaction and blastulation. Glucose oxidation was at a relatively low level (5-12% of total utilization) compared with glycolysis. No difference was observed between the glycolytic activity of blastocysts derived from in vivo or in vitro sources. However, glucose oxidation was lower (P less than 0.05) in blastocysts derived from the culture of 1-cell embryos or from oocytes matured and fertilized in vitro. Exogenous tricarboxylic acid cycle substrates (i.e. pyruvate and lactate supplied in the medium) affected the level of glucose oxidation.