Bovine embryos can be generated by in vitro fertilization or somatic nuclear transfer; however, these differ from their in vivo counterparts in many aspects and exhibit a higher proportion of developmental abnormalities. Here, we determined for the first time the transcriptomes of bovine metaphase II oocytes and all stages of preimplantation embryos developing in vivo up to the blastocyst using the Affymetrix GeneChip Bovine Genome Array which examines approximately 23,000 transcripts. The data show that bovine oocytes and embryos transcribed a significantly higher number of genes than somatic cells. Several hundred genes were transcribed well before the 8-cell stage, at which the major activation of the bovine genome expression occurs. Importantly, stage-specific expression patterns in 2-cell, 4-cell, and 8-cell stages, and in morulae and blastocysts, were detected, indicating dynamic changes in the embryonic transcriptome and in groups of transiently active genes. Pathway analysis revealed >120 biochemical pathways that are operative in early preimplantation bovine development. Significant differences were observed between the mRNA expression profiles of in vivo and in vitro matured oocytes, highlighting the need to include in vivo derived oocytes/embryos in studies evaluating assisted reproductive techniques. This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of gene expression and transcriptome dynamics of in vivo developing bovine embryos and will serve as a basis for improving assisted reproductive technology.