Abstract The overall objective of this study was to assess the effect of maintaining meiotic arrest in bovine oocytes in vitro on developmental competence. In Experiment 1 the effect of inhibition of meiotic resumption using cycloheximide (CX), on subsequent was examined. Immature cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs, n=804) were cultured in the absence (24 h) or presence of CX for 6, 12, 18 or 24 h. The control was inseminated 24 h later, while CX-treated oocytes were cultured for a further 24 h before insemination. In Experiment 2 the effect of exposing the oocyte (n=1239) during meiotic arrest to putative stimulatory substances (pFSH and FCS) was examined. In Experiment 3, to study the importance of protein synthesis during maturation, synthesis was blocked for a 6-h period at various times (6, 12, 18 h) after start of culture (n=1117). In Experiment 1, there was no difference in cleavage rate between treatments. However, the percentage of 5 to 8 cell embryos at 72 h post insemination was significantly lower after CX treatment (64 vs 42 to 51%; P<0.05). This was reflected in a lower rate of blastocysts at Day 6 (9 to 15 vs 31%, P<0.002). While the blastocyst rate at Day 8 was lower in CX-treated oocytes, the effect was only significant when CX was present for longer than 12 h. A marked decrease in development was noted following inhibition for 18 h or more compared with the control (17 to 19 vs 40%; P<0.0002). In Experiment 2, addition of either FSH or FCS to oocytes in the presence of CX had no effect on any of the parameters studied, even though there was a positive effect in control oocytes. In Experiment 3, treatment with CX after the oocytes had matured for varying periods resulted in decreased blastocyst rates at Days 6 and 8 of culture. The most significant drop in development occurred when oocytes were cultured for 12 h before exposure to CX (15 vs 40%; P<0.0001). In conclusion, CX-blocked oocytes retained their developmental competence, although final blastocyst yields were reduced.