To determine the effect of undernutrition on embryo production and quality in superovulated sheep, 45 ewes were allocated into two groups to be fed diets that provided 1.5 (control, C; n = 20) or 0.5 (low nutrition, L; n = 25) times daily requirements for maintenance, from oestrous synchronization with intravaginal sponges to embryo collection. Embryos were collected 7 days after the onset of oestrus (day 0). Low nutrition resulted in lower live weight and body condition at embryo collection (P < 0.05). Diet (P < 0.01) and day of sampling (P < 0.001) significantly affected plasma non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and insulin concentrations. Plasma leptin concentrations decreased on day 7 only in L ewes. A significant effect of dietary treatment (P < 0.05) and day (P < 0.0001) was observed on plasma insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I concentrations. The number of recovered oocytes and embryos did not differ between the groups (L: 15.4 ± 0.4; C: 12.4 ± 0.4). Recovery rate was lower (P < 0.05) in the L (60%) than in the C group (73%). The total number of embryos and number of viable-transferable embryos (5.0 ± 0.3 and 3.4 ± 0.3 embryos, respectively) of the L group were lower (P < 0.1) when compared with controls (8.4 ± 0.4 and 6.2 ± 0.4 embryos, respectively). Undernutrition during the period of superovulation and early embryonic development reduced total and viable number of embryos. These effects might be mediated by disruption of endocrine homeostasis, oviduct environment and/or oocyte quality.