The present study describes the effects of exposure of bovine sperm to mild and more intense ROS generating conditions. The membrane integrity of the incubated sperm was assessed and the incubated sperm were used for IVF after which the percentages of cleavage and blastocyst formation were determined for a period up to 9 days. The incubated sperm samples showed increased levels of molecular oxidation in the plasma membrane, the mitochondria, the cytosol and to a lesser extent in the sperm's DNA. The sperm membrane integrity as well as the first cleavage rates obtained with sperm from mild ROS generating conditions (100 microM H2O2) were not different from sperm incubated without pro-oxidants. However, exposure of sperm to more severe oxidative stress (500 mM H2O2 or a combination of 100 microM ascorbic acid, 20 microM FeSO4 and 500 microM H2O2) led to plasma membrane oxidation, reduced percentages of cleaved embryos and a reduction in the percentages of cleaved embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage. From these results, we conclude that the impact of oxidative stress to sperm becomes primarily manifest after the first cleavage of the formed zygote. Importantly, the level of lipid peroxidation in the sperm plasma membrane significantly correlates with blastocyst formation when the corresponding sperm is used for in vitro fertilization of oocytes.