In vitro fertilisation (IVF) and related technologies are arguably the most challenging of all cell culture applications. The starting material is a single cell from which one aims to produce an embryo capable of establishing a pregnancy eventually leading to a live birth. Laboratory processing during IVF treatment requires open manipulations of gametes and embryos, which typically involves exposure to ambient conditions. To reduce the risk of cellular stress, we have developed a totally enclosed system of interlinked isolator-based workstations designed to maintain oocytes and embryos in a physiological environment throughout the IVF process. Comparison of clinical and laboratory data before and after the introduction of the new system revealed that significantly more embryos developed to the blastocyst stage in the enclosed isolator-based system compared with conventional open-fronted laminar flow hoods. Moreover, blastocysts produced in the isolator-based system contained significantly more cells and their development was accelerated. Consistent with this, the introduction of the enclosed system was accompanied by a significant increase in the clinical pregnancy rate and in the proportion of embryos implanting following transfer to the uterus. The data indicate that protection from ambient conditions promotes improved development of human embryos. Importantly, we found that it was entirely feasible to conduct all IVF-related procedures in the isolator-based workstations.