Infertility adversely affects many couples worldwide. Conversely, the exponential increase in world population threatens our planet and its resources. Therefore, a greater understanding of the fundamental cellular and molecular events that control the size of the primordial follicle pool and follicular development is of utmost importance to develop improved in vitro fertilization as well as to design novel approaches to regulate fertility. In this review we attempt to highlight some new advances in basic research of the mammalian ovary that have occurred in recent years focusing primarily on mouse models that have contributed to our understanding of ovarian follicle formation, development, and ovulation. We hope that these new insights into ovarian function will trigger more research and translation to clinically relevant problems.