OBJECTIVE: This study was carried out to analyze the amount of telomeric DNA and telomerase activity in early bovine embryos. METHODS: The amount of telomeric DNA in early bovine embryos at the 8 cell, morula and blastocyst stages was analyzed by Quantitative Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (Q-FISH) technique using a bovine telomeric DNA probe. Telomerase activity was analyzed by Telomeric Repeat Amplification Protocol (TRAP assay). RESULTS: The relative amount of telomeric DNA in early bovine embryos was gradually increased from 8 cell to blastocyst stage. It was not significantly associated with the grade of embryo quality. While telomerase activity was detected in the early bovine embryos at these stages, it significantly increased at morula stage and showed maximum activity at the blastocyst stage. CONCLUSION: The amount of telomeric DNA and the telomerase activity of bovine embryos increase during the progression of early embryogenesis, suggesting a positive correlation between telomeric DNA and telomerase activity. The telomerase activity seems to increase to maintain the levels of telomeric DNA through embryo development which are required for extensive cell division.