Sixteen-day-old fetal mouse ovaries were slowly frozen in 1.5 mol dimethylsulfoxide ml-1 and subjected to one of two thawing procedures - fast thaw or slow thaw. Fresh and frozen-thawed fetal ovaries were transplanted orthotopically (to the bursal cavity) to either bilaterally or unilaterally ovariectomized adult female recipients. Fresh fetal ovaries were also transplanted heterotopically (under the kidney capsule) to intact, bilaterally or unilaterally ovariectomized adult females. Transplantation of fetal ovaries to bilaterally ovariectomized adult recipients resulted in restoration of cyclic activity within 20.5 ± 4.7 (mean ± SEM) days or 23.4 ± 0.8 days in orthotopic and heterotopic groups, respectively. Developing follicles and corpora lutea were observed within 4 weeks after transplantation of fetal ovaries to heterotopic sites and within 6 weeks after transplantation to orthotopic sites. After orthotopic transplantation, 33% of the recipients became pregnant. Orthotopic or heterotopic transplantation to intact of unilaterally ovariectomized recipients resulted in quiescence of the fetal ovary. After cryopreservation, transplantation of fetal ovaries to bilaterally ovariectomized recipients resulted in restoration of cyclic activity within 19.3 ± 2.1 days and 23.4 ± 5.1 days after transplantation in slow thaw and fast thaw groups, respectively. Fertility was restored to 86% of fast thawed and 25% of slow thawed fetal ovary transplants to bilaterally ovariectomized adult recipients. No ovarian tissue was observed on the side of the fetal graft in unilaterally ovariectomized recipients that received frozen-thawed fetal ovaries. These results demonstrate that cryopreserved fetal ovarian tissue can be transplanted to adult recipients with subsequent restoration of fertility and that this process is dependent on the absence of the ovaries of the recipients.