Oct-4, a decisive factor that maintains totipotency in murine embryonic and germ cells, is exclusively expressed in such cells. In mice, different levels of oct-4 expression in blastomeres predict development towards inner cell mass (ICM) (high oct-4) or trophectoderm (TE) (low oct-4). To address whether the mouse model also applies to human embryos, the cytoplasm of individual human blastomeres from normally and abnormally fertilized embryos was tested for Oct-4 expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The nuclei of the same blastomeres were subjected to fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) to determine ploidy. A significant difference in Oct-4 mRNA levels was revealed between blastomeres. The distribution of blastomeres with high Oct-4 levels varied according to the cleavage stage of the embryo the more blastomeres, the lower the percentage with high Oct-4 levels. Aneuploid blastomeres did not exhibit lower Oct-4 mRNA levels than diploid ones. Thus, differential Oct-4 expression in individual human blastomeres appears to direct cells towards the ICM or TE lineages without regard to chromosomal status. Oct-4 might be used as a marker in preimplantation genetic diagnosis to identify embryogenic blastomeres.