Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) expression in the uterus is essential for embryo implantation in mice. Here we describe the spatial and temporal regulation of LIF signaling in vivo by using tissues isolated from uteri on different days over the implantation period. During this time, LIF receptors are expressed predominantly in the luminal epithelium (LE) of the uterus. Isolated epithelium responds to LIF by phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat) 3, but not by an increase in mitogen-activated protein kinase levels. The related cytokines Il-6, ciliary neurotrophic factor, as well as epidermal growth factor, do not activate Stat3, although epidermal growth factor stimulates mitogen-activated protein kinase. In vivo Stat3 activation is induced by LIF alone, resulting in the localization of Stat3 specifically to the nuclei of the LE coinciding with the onset of uterine receptivity. The responsiveness of the LE to LIF is regulated temporally, with Stat activation being restricted to day 4 of pregnancy despite the presence of constant levels of LIF receptor throughout the preimplantation period. Uterine receptivity is therefore under dual control and is regulated by both the onset of LIF expression in the endometrial glands and the release from inhibition of receptor function in the LE.