In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be used to assess the fertilization capacity of sperm. Heterologous IVF may be useful when assessing that of wild animals as it is often difficult to obtain adequate numbers of naturally corresponding oocytes. The aim of the present study was to assess the fertilization capacity of frozen–thawed ibex epididymal spermatozoa via heterologous IVF involving the oocytes of prepubertal domestic goats. The effect on fertilization and embryo development of adding oestrous sheep serum (ESS) to the fertilization medium was also examined. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were matured in TCM-199 for 24–27 h at 38.5°C in a 5% CO2 in air atmosphere. Frozen–thawed epididymal spermatozoa were selected by density gradient centrifugation. After maturation, the oocytes were co-incubated with spermatozoa in synthetic oviductal fluid (SOF) with different concentrations of ESS: SOF-C (0%), SOF-2 (2%) and SOF-20 (20%). At 17 h post-insemination (hpi), zygotes with one female and one male pronucleus (2PN) were categorised as normal; zygotes with 3PN were recorded as polyspermic, and oocytes with 1PN as asynchronous. Cleavage and blastocyst development were assessed at 48 and 168 hpi respectively. The percentage of zygotes with 2PN was higher in the SOF-2 than in the SOF-20 treatment group (27.7% versus 2.9% P < 0.05). The percentage of blastocysts formed with the SOF-C, SOF-2 and SOF-20 treatments were 1.1%, 7.5% and 0% respectively. These results show that the presence of 2% ESS achieves better results than the use of no serum or the standard 20% concentration. Heterologous IVF may be an effective method for predicting the fertilization capacity of ibex spermatozoa, and therefore perhaps that of other wild mountain ungulates.