This study examined the effects of zinc chloride (ZnCl2) and sodium selenite (Na2SeO3) supplementation in maturation medium on in vitro maturation (IVM) rate, oxidative biomarkers and gene expression in buffalo oocytes. Ovaries from a slaughterhouse were aspirated and good quality cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) with at least four layers of compact cumulus cells and evenly granulated dark ooplasm were selected. COCs were randomly allocated during IVM (22 h) to one of four treatment groups: (1) control maturation medium (basic medium), or basic medium supplemented with (2) ZnCl2 (1.5 µg/ml), (3) Na2SeO3 (5 µg/l), or (4) ZnCl2 + Na2SeO3 (1.5 µg/ml + 5 µg/l, respectively). Oocytes were denuded after 22 h of IVM in the first four replicates. Specimens were fixed and stained to evaluate the stage of nuclear maturation. The spent medium was collected for biochemical assays of total antioxidant capacity (TAC), malondialdehyde (MDA) and hydrogen peroxide concentrations. A second four replicates were used for COCs for RNA extraction. The expression levels of antioxidant (SOD1, GPX4, CAT and PRDX1), antiapoptotic (BCL2 and BCL-XL) and proapoptotic (BAX and BID) genes were measured. Supplementation with ZnCl2 and Na2SeO3 during IVM increased the ratio of oocytes reaching metaphase II at 22 h, increased TAC and decreased MDA and H2O2 concentrations in the maturation medium (P < 0.05). Moreover, beneficial effects were associated with complementary changes in expression patterns of antioxidative, antiapoptotic and proapoptotic genes, suggesting lower oxidative stress and apoptosis. Supplementation medium with zinc chloride and sodium selenite improves the maturation rate, reduces oxidative stress and increases expression levels of antioxidative and antiapoptotic genes.