The present study was undertaken to establish an effective method for in vitro maturation (IVM) of denuded oocytes (DOs) by simulating the ovarian three-dimensional status in vivo using buffalo ovarian tissues or cumulus cells, so as to provide a model for investigating the mechanisms of oocyte maturation. Buffalo cumulus–oocyte complexes from ovaries taken at slaughter were denuded by pipetting, and then allocated randomly into four groups for IVM by direct culture in maturation medium (M1, control group), co-culture with a monolayer of cumulus cells (M2), embedded in cumulus cell clumps (M3) and ovarian tissue (M4) for 24 h. The nuclear maturation of DOs was assessed by the extrusion of the first polar body and the cytoplasmic maturation was evaluated by subsequently developmental capacity after parthenogenetic activation. More DOs matured to MII (56.89%) and developed to blastocysts (25.75%) when they were matured in vitro with M3 in comparison with DOs matured in vitro with M1 (45.14 and 15.97%) and M4 (40.48 and 13.49%). Further detection of gap junctions by injecting Lucifer yellow directly into cytoplasm of matured DOs with adherent cumulus cells and scanning with confocal microscope showed that Lucifer yellow were found in nine out of 11 the adherent cumulus cells in M3, indicating that the gap junctions between oocytes and cumulus cells was reconstructed in vitro. These results indicate that co-culture of DOs embedded in cumulus cell clumps can improve their nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of DOs, possibly through the reconstruction of gap junctions in vitro.