A modified embryo biopsy method was tested on four- and eight-cell stage mouse embryos and used on human embryos to obtain blastomeres for preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The biopsy method tested combines zona drilling and fluid displacement to force one or two cells through an opening in the zona pellucida of the cleavage-stage embryo. Rates of cell division and the percentage of mouse embryos forming blastocysts following biopsy at the eight-cell stage were not significantly different from those observed in unoperated control embryos. The percentage blastocyst formation was not significantly different in embryos biopsied at the four-cell stage and in control embryos, although cell division was significantly retarded following biopsy. 96% of the mouse blastomeres isolated at the eight-cell stage were recovered intact and 96% of those placed in culture underwent cell division. Survival and division of cells isolated at the four-cell stage were 92 and 84% respectively. Most of the cultured blastomeres cleaved several times and formed small trophoblast vesicles. Chromosomes were observed in 59% of blastomeres incubated in the presence of colcemid. In the initial use of this biopsy technique for human preimplantation genetic diagnosis, blastocyst formation was observed in 9 of 13 human embryos biopsied at the 7- to 10-cell stage. These findings support the use of this biopsy method as an alternative to aspiration techniques.