Background and aims Cymbidium mastersii is an epiphytic orchid distributed mainly in Northeast India. Owing to its high commercial value in the floricultural industry, natural populations are under threat from over-exploitation. Mass propagation provides an alternative means of satisfying the demand. Unfortunately, conventional propagation is slow and difficult, suggesting in vitro methods for mass multiplication may be more appropriate. The objective of this study was to develop an efficient protocol. Methodology and principal results Four nutrient media were evaluated for seed germination and early protocorm development: Murashige and Skoog (MS), half-strength MS, Knudson ‘C’ (KC), and Vacin and Went (VW). In addition, the effects of plant growth regulators 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP), kinetin (KN), α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) were studied alone and in combination. The maximum percentage seed germination (93.58 ± 0.56) was obtained in MS basal medium after 8–9 weeks of culture. Secondary protocorms (protocorm-like bodies) were developed from primary protocorms on MS medium fortified with different concentrations and combinations of cytokinins (BAP and KN) and auxins (NAA and IBA). The highest numbers of secondary protocorms (20.55 ± 0.62)/primary protocorms were obtained in MS medium supplemented with 5.0 µM BAP and 2.5 µM NAA. The most effective auxin source promoting root production (7.46 ± 0.09 per shoot) was 10.0 µM IBA. The plants were acclimatized effectively (survival percentage 88 %) in a greenhouse using a rooting medium of crushed sterile brick and charcoal (1 : 1 v/v) and vermicompost (leaf litter + cow dung, 1 : 1 v/v). Conclusions An efficient protocol was established for in vitro propagation of C. mastersii using seed as the starting material. The percentage seed germination varied with the composition of the nutrient media and was highest in full-strength MS basal medium. The number of secondary protocorms that developed from primary protocorms was increased by the addition of 5.0 µM BAP and 2.5 µM NAA. In vitro raised plantlets acclimatized in a greenhouse were closely similar to the mother plants in morphology.