Melatonin is capable of improving the developmental capacity of ovine, porcine and bovine embryos in vitro. However, whether melatonin possesses similar benefits to the in vitro mouse embryonic development has yet to be determined. In this study, we assessed the effects of various concentrations of melatonin (10-13 to 10-3 M) on the in-vitro development of mouse embryos cultured in HTF medium for 96 hr; embryos cultured without melatonin were used as control. The in vitro development of mouse two-cell embryos significantly benefited from treatment with melatonin in a concentration-dependent manner. The effects of melatonin on the rates of blastocyst formation, hatching/hatched blastocysts and cell number per blastocyst were bi-phasic; all significantly increased by melatonin at 10-13 to 10-5 M and decreased by melatonin at 10-3 M. Maximal benefit of melatonin on in vitro mouse 2-cell embryo development was achieved at a concentration of 10-9 M. In comparison to control, 10-9 M melatonin increased blastocyst formation rate from 48.08 +/- 5.25% to 82.08 +/- 2.34% (p < 0.05), hatched blastocyst rate from 25.65 +/- 11.79% to 66.47 +/- 4.94% (p < 0.05), and cell number per blastocyst 62.71 +/- 5.97 to 77.91 +/- 10.63 (p < 0.05). Thus, our datas demonstrated firstly that melatonin has beneficial effects on the in vitro development of 2-cell mouse embryos cultured in HTF medium.