In the cow, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) acts as an auto-/paracrine factor, through its receptors LPAR1-4, on oocytes and cumulus cells during in vitro maturation (IVM). The aim of the present work was to determine the effect of LPA during IVM of bovine oocytes on: 1) oocyte maturation; 2) apoptosis of COCs; 3) expression of genes involved in developmental competence and apoptosis in bovine oocytes and subsequent blastocysts; 4) cumulus expansion and expression of genes involved in the ovulatory cascade in cumulus cells; 5) glucose metabolism and expression of genes involved in glucose utilization in cumulus cells; 6) cleavage and blastocyst rates on Day 2 and Day 7 of in vitro culture, respectively. Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were matured in vitro in the presence or absence of LPA (10(-5) M) for 24 h. Following maturation, we determined: oocyte maturation stage, cumulus expansion, COCs apoptosis and glucose and lactate levels in the maturation medium. Moreover, COCs were either used for gene expression analysis or fertilized in vitro. The embryos were cultured until Day 7 to assess cleavage and blastocyst rates. Oocytes, cumulus cells and blastocysts were used for gene expression analysis. Supplementation of the maturation medium with LPA enhanced oocyte maturation rates and stimulated the expression of developmental competence-related factors (OCT4, SOX2, IGF2R) in oocytes and subsequent blastocysts. Moreover, LPA reduced the occurrence of apoptosis in COCs and promoted an antiapoptotic balance in the transcription of genes involved in apoptosis (BAX and BCL2) either in oocytes or blastocysts. LPA increased glucose uptake by COCs via augmentation of GLUT1 expression in cumulus cells as well as stimulating lactate production via the enhancement of PFKP expression in cumulus cells. LPA did not affect cumulus expansion as visually assessed, however, it stimulated upstream genes of cumulus expansion cascade, AREG and EREG. Supplementation of the maturation medium with LPA improves oocyte maturation rates, decreases extent of apoptosis in COCs and sustains the expression of developmental competence related factors during oocyte maturation and subsequently affects gene expression profile at the blastocyst stage. We also demonstrate that LPA directs glucose metabolism toward the glycolytic pathway during IVM.