The optimum oxygen tension for culturing mammalian embryos has been widely debated by the scientific community. While several laboratories have moved to using 5% as the value for oxygen tension, the majority of modern in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory programmes still use 20%. Several in vivo studies have shown the oxygen tension measured in the oviduct of mammals fluctuates between 2% and 8% and in cows and primates this values drops to <2% in the uterine milieu. In human IVF, a non-physiological level of 20% oxygen has been used in the past. However, several studies have shown that atmospheric oxygen introduces adverse effects to embryo development, not limited to numerous molecular and cellular physiology events. In addition, low oxygen tension plays a critical role in reducing the high level of detrimental reactive oxygen species within cells, influences embryonic gene expression, helps with embryo metabolism of glucose, and enhances embryo development to the blastocyst stage. Collectively, this improves embryo implantation potential. However, clinical studies have yielded contradictory results. In almost all reports, some level of improvement has been identified in embryo development or implantation, without any observed drawbacks. This review article will examine the recent literature and discusses ongoing efforts to understand the benefits that low oxygen tension can bring to mammal embryo development in vitro.