The influence of 2 co-culture systems (BOEC and Vero cells) on the development rates, quality grades and sex ratios of IVM-IVF bovine embryos were studied. Zygotes obtained after IVF were co-cultured in each co-culture system for 7 and 8 d (Day 0 = day of insemination) in B2 medium. No effect of the co-culture system was observed on development rates measured on Days 7 and 8. However, Vero cell co-culture had a positive influence on embryo quality. Irrespective of their sex, embryos produced on Vero cells showed higher cells number than those co-cultured on BOEC (103.4 +/- 3.8 and 97 +/- 8.12 for BOEC vs 113.7 +/- 3.5 and 114 +/- 5.9 for Vero cells at Days 7 and 8, respectively; P < 0.05). The percentage of male embryos was increased in the two co-culture systems (60.7% males for BOEC; P < 0.05 vs 63% males for Vero cells; P < 0.01) on Day 7. In both co-culture systems the increase in the percentage of males was more obvious for embryos reaching the most advanced stage (expanded blastocysts). The results show that Vero cells improved the quality grade of bovine embryos produced in vitro, and thus are recommended for use as a safe co-culture system that does not contain pathogens.