[en] Porcine embryo selection prior to transfer is mainly influenced by morphological criteria. However, the relationship between embryonic morphology, developmental potential and cell death by apoptosis in porcine embryos is still unclear. The aim of this study was to establish embryo quality parameters for in vivo fertilised porcine embryos based on timing of development in vitro, embryo morphology and the presence of apoptosis. The kinetics of development and morphological parameters were investigated in a time-lapse cinematographic experiment. Possible links between embryo morphology and apoptosis were examined via a confocal laser scanning experiment, analysing nuclear changes, annexin V and terminal dUTP nick-end labelling. The timing of early cleavages was firmly linked to embryo developmental competence in vitro. Attainment of at least the 5-cell stage before 77 h post insemination and attainment of the morula stage before 102 h post insemination significantly increased the odds for reaching the early blastocyst stage. Overall, a negative effect of fragmentation percentage and fragmentation pattern on subsequent embryonic development was observed, but the developmental potential of embryos experiencing slight fragmentation (0-5%) was not different from embryos without fragmentation. Correlations detected between developmental arrest and fragmentation, and fragmentation and apoptosis were 0.60 and 0.87 (P < 0.05) respectively. Only a minority of the embryos arrested between the 1- and 4-cell stage displayed biochemical characteristics of apoptosis. Consequently, a significant correlation (0.57) between developmental arrest and apoptosis could only be established for embryos arrested after embryonic genome activation.