Previously, we reported that sanguinarine, a phytoalexin with antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic effects, is a risk factor for normal embryonic development that triggers apoptotic processes in the inner cell mass of mouse blastocysts, causing decreased embryonic development and cell viability. In the current study, we investigated the deleterious effects of sanguinarine on mouse oocyte maturation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and subsequent pre- and postimplantation development both in vitro and in vivo. Notably, sanguinarine significantly impaired mouse oocyte maturation, decreased IVF rates, and inhibited subsequent embryonic development in vitro. Preincubation of oocytes with sanguinarine during in vitro maturation induced an increase in postimplantation embryo resorption and a decrease in mouse fetal weight. In an in vivo animal model, 1 to 5 μM sanguinarine, provided in drinking water, caused a decrease in oocyte maturation and IVF, and led to deleterious effects on early embryonic development. Importantly, preincubation of oocytes with a caspase-3-specific inhibitor effectively blocked sanguinarine-triggered deleterious effects, clearly implying that embryonic injury induced by sanguinarine is mediated by a caspase-dependent apoptotic mechanism. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 30: 946–955, 2015.