The highly conserved nature of the thyroid gland and the thyroid system among mammalian species suggests it is critical to species survival. Studies show the thyroid system plays a critical role in the development of several organ systems, including the reproductive tract. Despite its highly conserved nature, the thyroid system can have widely different effects on reproduction and reproductive tract development in different species. The present review focuses on assessing the role of thyroid hormones in human reproduction and reproductive tract development and comparing it to the role of thyroid hormones in laboratory animal reproduction and reproductive tract development. The review also assesses the effects of thyroid dysfunction on reproductive tract development and function in humans and laboratory animals. Consideration of such information is important in designing, conducting, and interpreting studies to assess the potential effects of thyroid toxicants on reproduction and development. Birth Defects Res B 68:479–491, 2003. Published 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.