This review highlights the role of the oviduct in early embryo development, which has to fulfil many aligned and well-tuned tasks during early embryogenesis. The oviductal lining is subjected to dynamic changes to timely accomplish gamete transport, fertilization and embryo development and to deliver a competent and healthy conceptus to the endometrium which can implant and develop to term. Although knowledge about the role of the oviduct is limited, we know that embryos are very sensitive to the environment in which they develop. The success of in vitro embryo production techniques demonstrates that it is possible to bypass the oviduct during early development and, to a certain extent, replicate the conditions in vitro. However, comparative studies show that embryos developed in vivo are superior to their in vitro produced counterparts, underlining our relatively poor knowledge of the biology of the oviduct. Oviduct activity is orchestrated by various factors, depending on cyclic dynamics, which crucially affect the success of tubal transfer and/or (re-)collection of embryos in embryo transfer studies. This paper reviews data which demonstrate that in vivo culture of embryos in the bovine oviduct is a useful tool for the assessment of embryos developed under various conditions (e.g. superovulation vs single ovulation, lactating dairy cows vs non-lactating cows). It is concluded that more work in the field of early embryo development within the oviduct would contribute to improved ART protocols leading to healthy pregnancies and offspring.