Selenium is an essential trace element in conventional tissue culture media to guarantee adequate biosynthesis of selenoprotein in cellular antioxidant system to protect the cells from oxidative damage and apoptosis. This study investigated the effect of selenium, in the form of sodium selenite (SS), on developmental ability and quality of in vitro produced porcine parthenotes. For this, parthenogenetic presumptive diploid zygotes were produced by electroactivation and cultured in the absence or presence of SS at different concentrations (0, 2.5, 25, 250 ng/ml) in a serum-free defined culture medium supplemented with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or bovine serum albumin (BSA). Results showed that, development rate of 2-4 cell stage parthenotes to blastocyst and their cell number was increased while TUNEL index was decreased, in a dose-dependent manner, when SS was supplemented to NCSU23 + PVA. Interestingly, the blastocyst rate and their quality approached to those cultured in NCSU23 + BSA (P < 0.05), thereby suggesting PVA + 25 ng/ml SS to be a partial replacement of BSA. In the presence of PVA, supplementation of SS at a concentration of 25 ng/ml did not improve the cleavage rate of in vitro matured oocytes but there was significant improvement in the blastocyst rate (45.4 +/- 8.8% vs. 12.7 +/- 4.8%), total nuclei number (42.1 +/- 3.5 vs. 31.3 +/- 2.9) and inner cell mass (ICM) rate (29.4 +/- 1.5% vs. 21.3 +/- 1.2%) and decrease in TUNEL index (5.6 +/- 0.5 vs. 12.9 +/- 1.3) compared to nonsupplemented controls. The SS supplementation also decreased the BAX:BCL-xL transcript ratio, increased the expression of ERK1/2 and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and reduced the level of Caspase 3 proteins (P < 0.05). These data thus suggest that SS improves the development rate and quality of porcine parthenotes by preventing oxidative damage and apoptosis.