The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) on the activation and survival of preantral follicles cultured in vitro enclosed in ovarian fragments (in situ). Goat ovarian cortex was divided into fragments to be used in this study. One fragment was immediately fixed (fresh control – FC) and the remaining fragments were cultured in supplemented minimum essential medium (MEM) without (cultured control – CC) or with different concentrations of LIF (1, 10, 50, 100 or 200 ng/ml) for 1 or 7 days, at 39°C in air with 5% CO2. Fresh control, CC and treated ovarian fragments were processed for histological and fluorescence analysis. The percentage of histological normal preantral follicles cultured for 7 days with 1 ng/ml (49.3%), 10 ng/ml (58.6%) and 50 ng/ml (58%) of LIF was higher than in the CC (32.6%; p < 0.05). After 7 days of culture, the percentage of primordial follicles in situ cultured with LIF decreased and primary follicles increased in all LIF concentrations compared with FC and CC (p < 0.05). In conclusion, LIF induced primordial follicle activation and supported preantral follicle viability of goat ovarian tissues cultured for 7 days.