In each of three experiments, in vitro-matured and -fertilised zygotes were cultured to Day 7 post insemination in synthetic oviductal fluid (SOF). In Experiment 1, zygotes were cultured in groups in either SOF plus albumin (SOFA) or serum (SOFS) and then blastocysts were cultured individually for a further 24 h without a change of media. In Experiment 2, zygotes were cultured in groups using a 2 × 2 factorial design in SOFA or SOFS, with or without recombinant ovine granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF; 5 ng mL-1). Blastocysts were then cultured individually using a split-plot design in SOFA or SOFS with or without GM-CSF. In Experiment 3, zygotes were cultured in SOFA in which GM-CSF was absent (A) or present (P) during Days 1-3, Days 3-5 or Days 5-7 of IVC in six combinations as follows: AAA, AAP, APP, PPP, PPA and PAA. Serum or GM-CSF increased secretion of interferon (IFN)-τ in Experiments 1 and 2 both between Days 5 and 7 of group culture and during individual culture. Secretion of IFN-τ during individual culture was determined by the medium in which embryos were group cultured and the effects of GM-CSF and serum were not additive. In Experiment 3, the presence of GM-CSF between Days 1 and 3 of culture was responsible for stimulation of secretion of IFN-τ between Days 5 and 7; IFN-τ secretion was detected as early as Day 3 post insemination.