Temperature fluctuations at the early cleavage stages have been demonstrated to decrease the subsequent development potential of embryos in vitro. Exposure of mouse zygotes to room temperature for just five minutes reduced cleavage rates. Increasing the exposure time to 10 and 15 minutes further decreased cleavage rates and reduced development to the blastocyst stage such that blastocyst development was half of the control after 15 minutes at room temperature (274). Exposure of rabbit cleavage stage embryos to room temperature for three hours also decreased cleavage rates as assessed by thymidine incorporation and development to moru-lae and blastocyst stages (278). Exposure of human oocytes to room temperature has been reported to induce damage to the meiotic spindle (279). It would therefore seem advisable to maintain a constant temperature of 37°C when handling human oocytes and embryos.

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