In mammals including humans, failure in blastocyst hatching and implantation leads to early embryonic loss and infertility. Prior to implantation, the blastocyst must hatch out of its acellular glycoprotein coat, the zona pellucida (ZP). The phenomenon of blastocyst hatching is believed to be regulated by (i) dynamic cellular components such as actin-based trophectodermal projections (TEPs), and (ii) a variety of autocrine and paracrine molecules such as growth factors, cytokines and proteases. The spatio-temporal regulation of zona lysis by blastocyst-derived cellular and molecular signaling factors is being keenly investigated. Our studies show that hamster blastocyst hatching is acelerated by growth factors such as heparin binding-epidermal growth factor and leukemia inhibitory factor and that embryo-derived, cysteine proteases including cathepsins are responsible for blastocyst hatching. Additionally, we believe that cyclooxygenase-generated prostaglandins, estradiol-17 beta mediated estrogen receptor-alpha signaling and possibly NF kappa B could be involved in peri-hatching development. Moreover, we show that TEPs are intimately involved with lysing ZP and that the TEPs potentially enrich and harbor hatching-enabling factors. These observations provide new insights into our understanding of the key cellular and molecular regulators involved in the phenomenon of mammalian blastocyst hatching, which is essential for the establishment of early pregnancy.