The aim of this study was to determine the effect of maternal-embryonic asynchrony in the reproductive tract (oviduct and uterus) on subsequent embryo development in cattle. Fifty Day 1invitro-produced zygotes were transferred endoscopically into the oviduct ipsilateral to the corpus luteum of heifers (n=40) that were either synchronous with the embryos (Day 1 after ovulation) or asynchronous and ahead of the embryo (Day 3 after ovulation). A subset of heifers was killed in a commercial abattoir 3, 6 or 14 days after embryo transfer. Location within the reproductive tract, developmental stage and the quality of embryos were recorded. Transfer of embryos to an advanced (asynchronous) oviduct resulted, on Day 4, in fewer embryos at the expected location (oviduct), and a greater number of degenerated and retarded embryos with a lower total cell number than for embryos in the synchronous group. Similarly, on Day 7, asynchrony led to a greater number of degenerated and retarded embryos compared with the synchronous group. Total embryo cell number was similar among groups. Although Day 15 conceptuses were longer following asynchronous transfer, only 50% of the asynchronous heifers yielded conceptuses, compared with 100% in the synchronous group. In conclusion, asynchrony between the developing embryo and the reproductive tract has a negative effect on embryo development.