The present study was carried out to study the effect of different maturation media on embryo development of heifer oocytes and on their glutathione (GSH) synthesis during in vitro maturation (IVM). Immature heifer oocytes were matured in parallel in one of four maturation media: (i) Tissue Culture Medium (TCM)-199 supplemented with 10 ng/ml of epidermal growth factor (EGF); (i) TCM-199 supplemented with 10 ng/ml of EGF plus 1 μg/ml of FSH; (iii) TCM-199 supplemented with 10% of foetal bovine serum (FBS) and (iv) TCM-199 supplemented with 10% of FBS plus 1 μg/ml of FSH. Cow oocytes were used as control and were matured in TCM-199 supplemented with 10 ng/ml of EGF. No differences were observed in blastocyst rate among the different heifer oocyte groups (8.8, 7.5. 8.4 and 6.8%, respectively) however, the percentage of blastocysts obtained from cow oocytes was significantly higher (30%; p < 0.01) than those obtained from heifer oocytes. De novo GSH synthesis during oocyte maturation of heifer and cow oocytes was detected. No significant differences in intracytoplasmic GSH levels were observed among the experimental heifer oocyte groups or between heifer and cow oocytes both before and after IVM. In conclusion, the blastocyst yield obtained from heifer oocytes was lower than that from cow oocytes and this fact could not be explained by significant differences in intracytoplasmic GSH contents of oocytes before or after IVM. © 2005 Blackwell Verlag.