The in vitro embryo culture systems need further improvement to enhance the efficiency of bovine embryo production. Growth factors play key roles in embryo production and quality. The objective of this study was to define the effects of leptin, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and their combination on embryonic development, apoptosis, and expression profiles of a panel of developmentally important genes during 8-day embryo culture. The oocytes were aspirated from slaughterhouse ovaries of mixed breed cows. Following IVM/IVF presumptive zygotes were obtained. To accomplish this objective, presumptive zygotes (16-18 h post-insemination) were cultured in vitro as control (no supplementation, n = 349), 5 ng/ml leptin (Group I, n = 322), 100 ng/ml IGF-1 (Group II, n = 347), and 5 ng/ml leptin and 100 ng/ml IGF-1 (Group III, n = 360). All groups were supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) on Day 4, and blastocysts were harvested on day 8. The DNA-fragmented nuclei of blastocyst were determined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and expression profiles of a panel of developmentally important genes were assayed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The cleavage rate and embryo development to 8-16 cell stage were higher in groups II and III as compared to control (P < 0.05), respectively. Percentage of blastocyst and mean cell numbers per blastocyst did not differ among the groups. Addition of IGF-I and/or combination with leptin decreased the number of nuclei with fragmented DNA (P < 0.01) as compared to the control group. Although the expression of glucose transporter 1 (Glut1), desmosomal glycoprotein desmocollin III (DcIII), and insulin like growth factor 2 receptor (Igf2r) transcripts did not change among the groups, interferon-tau (IF-tau) and DNA methyltransferase 3A (Dnmt3a) were down-regulated in group II while heat shock protein-70 (Hsp70) and IF-tau were up regulated in group III. Results indicate that addition of IGF-I in culture media improved the cleavage rate; combination with leptin also improved the development rates to 8-16-cell-stage embryos, decreased the TUNEL-positive nuclei, and caused alterations in the amounts of transcripts for the developmentally important genes assayed.