The aim of this study was to improve in vitro embryo development of prepubertal goat oocytes by studying the effect of adding cysteamine to in vitro maturation medium, glutathione (GSH) to in vitro fertilization medium and ionomycin to the sperm capacitation medium. In experiment 1, we analysed the effect of 1 mM GSH added to fertilization medium of oocytes matured with 400 μM cysteamine. The control group were oocytes without cysteamine and GSH. In experiment 2, oocytes matured and fertilized in the presence of 400 μM cysteamine and 1 mM GSH, respectively, were inseminated with spermatozoa treated with ionomycin or heparin. In experiment 1, the percentages of total and normal fertilized oocytes were significantly higher for oocytes supplemented with cysteamine and GSH (40.26% and 30.20%, respectively) than for oocytes from the control group (16.66%, and 10.61%, respectively). The percentage of total embryos obtained after 7 days of culture was significantly higher in the group supplemented with cysteamine and GSH (30.62%) than in the control group (8.09%). In experiment 2, percentages of total and normal fertilized oocytes were significantly higher for the group of spermatozoa capacitated with ionomycin (52.21% and 37.17%, respectively) than with heparin (38.62% and 28.35%, respectively). After 7 days of culture, total embryo rate was significantly higher in the group of sperm capacitated with ionomycin (44.91%) than with heparin (38.69%). However, the percentage of embryos developed to the blastocyst stage was not affected by any of the treatments studied. © 2004 Cambridge University Press.