Embryos of mouse, rabbit, goat, sheep, and cattle were separated into 2 groups on the basis of their morphology when incubated with a male-specific antibody (qualified here as the H-Y antibody) prepared from newborn rat testis. When morula-stage embryos were cultured in the presence of this H-Y antibody, the development of roughly one half of the embryos was arrested at that stage, whereas the other half continued to develop to the blastocyst stage. The developmentaly arrested group of embryos resumed their development into blastocysts when cultured in antibody-free medium. Eighty to 90% of cattle embryos whose development was unaffected by the antibody were shown to possess a female karyotype (XX), and close to 80% of those embryos whose development was arrested possessed a male karyotype (XY). Cattle embryos whose sex had been presumptively identified by development in the presence of the H-Y antibody were cryopreserved and transferred, and the sex of the calves was examined. The overt sex of the young born from sexed embryos was found to be the same as that determined by chromosomal analysis. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.