ACKGROUND: Animal studies have demonstrated better embryo development in vivo than in vitro. This pilot study tested the feasibility of using a novel in utero culture system (IUCS) to obtain normal human fertilization and embryo development. METHODS: The IUCS device comprised a perforated silicone hollow tube. The study included 13 patients (<36 years) undergoing a first intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment and 167 metaphase II oocytes in three groups. In Group 1, 1-2 h after ICSI, sibling oocytes were assigned to IUCS or conventional in vitro culture. The device was retrieved on Day 1, and all zygotes were cultured in vitro till Day 5. In Group 2, fertilized oocytes were assigned on Day 1, embryos retrieved on Day 3 and all embryos cultured till Day 5. In Group 3, after Day 0 assignment, embryos were retrieved on Day 3 for blastomere biopsy and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and cultured until Day 5. The highest quality blastocysts were transferred on Day 5. RESULTS: Fertilization and embryo development were comparable in the in vitro and IUCS arms, with a tendency towards better embryo quality in the IUCS. FISH analysis in Group 3 revealed more normal embryos using the IUCS (P = 0.049). Three clinical pregnancies and live births were obtained: two from the IUCS arm and one from the in vitro arm. CONCLUSIONS: Our pilot study shows that this new IUCS appears to be feasible and safe, supporting normal fertilization, embryo development and normal chromosomal segregation. Furthermore, live births are possible after the transient presence of a silicone device in the uterus. Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00480103.