One of the most intriguing and dramatic examples of immunological tolerance is displayed by the mammalian foetal–placental unit, which thrives as a semi-allograft in the mother’s uterus during pregnancy. The success of the so-called foetal allograft stands in stark contrast to the failure of most tissue and organ grafts to survive without genetic matching of donor and recipient or drastic immunosuppression of the recipient’s immune system. Experiments conducted over the past 60 years have revealed multiple mechanisms that enable the conceptus to avoid immunological detection or destruction. Many of these mechanisms are directed towards evading immune-mediated damage by maternal T lymphocytes, and they can be grouped into three classes: (i) downregulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene expression in placental trophoblast cells; (ii) local and systemic alterations in maternal immune reactivity; and (iii) innate defence mechanisms of the trophoblast cells that comprise the barrier between foetal and maternal tissues. The redundancy in these protective mechanisms helps ensure the transmission of life from generation to generation and provides a rich field of study of ways in which functional immunological tolerance can be manifest. The variation in placental forms and function among mammalian species present opportunities to discover and understand novel tolerogenic mechanisms that may have broad application in biology, medicine and animal husbandry. This review focuses on the evidence obtained from studies of pregnancy in the mare that support the case for selective T-cell tolerance to the mammalian conceptus.