The discovery of progesterone (P4) and elucidation of the mechanisms of P4 action have an important place in the history of endocrinology and reproduction. Circulating P4 concentration is determined by a balance between P4 production, primarily by the corpus luteum (CL), and P4 metabolism, primarily by the liver. The volume of luteal tissue and number and function of large luteal cells are primary factors determining P4 production. Rate of P4 metabolism is generally determined by liver blood flow and can be of critical importance in determining circulating P4 concentrations, particularly in dairy cattle. During timed artificial insemination (AI) protocols, elevations in P4 are achieved by increasing number of CL by creating accessory CL or by supplementation with exogenous P4. Dietary manipulations can also alter circulating P4, although practical methods to apply these techniques have not yet been reported. Elevating P4 before the timed AI generally decreases double ovulation and increases fertility to the timed AI. Near the time of AI, slight elevations in circulating P4, possibly due to inadequate luteal regression, can dramatically reduce fertility. After AI, circulating P4 is critical for embryo growth and establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Many studies have attempted to improve fertility by elevating P4 after timed AI. Our recent meta-analysis and manipulative study indicated small fertility benefits (3% to 3.5%) mostly in primiparous cows. Thus, previous research has provided substantial insight into mechanisms regulating circulating P4 concentrations and actions. Understanding this prior research can focus future research on P4 manipulation to improve reproductive success.