The World Health Organization estimates that one in six couples experience some delay in conception and an increasing number require treatment by the assisted conception (AC) procedures of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).The implantation rate of embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization cycles is generally less than 20%. The exposure of oocytes and embryos to the artificial conditions of in vitro culture may have negative effects on the embryo's ability to undergo normal hatching, resulting in low rates of implantation following IVF and embryo transfer. Human embryos resulting from superovulation develop more slowly in vitro compared to embryos in vivo, manifest a relatively high degree of cytogenetic abnormalities and undergo cellular fragmentation. Artificially disrupting the zona pellucida is known as assisted hatching (AH) and there is some evidence that embryos that have undergone zona manipulation for assisted hatching tend to implant one day earlier than unhatched embryos. A variety of techniques have since been employed to assist embryo hatching, including partial mechanical zona dissection, zona drilling and zona thinning, making use of acid tyrodes, proteinases, piezon vibrator manipulators and lasers. This review will consider the impact of IVF conditions on zona pellucida physiology, zona hardening, different techniques of assisted hatching, who may benefit from assisted hatching and potential hazards.