The processes leading to implantation and the establishment of pregnancy involve hormonal and non-hormonal agents that offer opportunities as targets for contraception. Hormonal agents include progesterone, luteolytic factors (prostaglandin F(2α)) and embryonic signals (chorionic gonadotrophin, oestradiol-17β, interferon-τ) responsible for maintaining the corpus luteum. Non-hormonal agents include surface antigens (attachment and adhesion molecules), vasoactive agents, tissue-remodelling enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases) and inhibitors (TIMPs), growth factors (epidermal growth factor and insulin-like growth factor families) and cytokines (such as leukaemia inhibitory factor, colony-stimulating factor-1, interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-6) associated with the pre-attachment period and the apposition, adhesion and invasion of the blastocyst. This review describes some of the hormonal and non-hormonal agents present at the time of implantation that may be exploited as targets for contraception in feral species. Particular attention is paid to the mouse as an experimental model and potential target species. The considerable species differences which exist in the modes of implantation and placentation and the way in which the female 'recognizes' the presence of a viable conceptus offer a means of conferring species specificity on potential contraceptive targets for feral species.