Anatomical differentiation and storage product accumulation were studied during avocado (Persea americana Mill.) zygotic embryo development using histological techniques. The results were correlated with the germination capacity under in vitro conditions. The histodifferentiation phase, characterized by active cell division and differentiation, was accomplished by 100 d after pollination (DAP), when embryos reached 16–18 mm in length. After a phase in which there were no morphological changes, the maturation phase commenced at 125 DAP in embryos 24–26 mm in length. Accumulation of starch granules and the appearance of protein bodies occurred at this time. Germination was significantly influenced by the embryo developmental stage. Different parameters used as indicators of germination quality (germination percentage, germination speed and recovery of complete plantlets) showed a positive correlation with the age of the embryos. However, germination in vitro was not achieved fully until the end of zygotic embryo development, when the embryo reached physiological maturity.