The potential litter size of gilts that is based on the ovulation rate is much higher than the actual litter size, which depends on the fertilization rate and subsequent prenatal mortality. Prenatal mortality is divided into embryonic mortality (before Day 30) and fetal mortality (after Day 30). Prenatal loss includes both fertilization failure and prenatal mortality. Crossbred gilts (n = 149) were bred at the first observed estrus after being exposed to the boar at 200 days of age. Time of the first insemination after estrus detection was determined by measurement of vaginal conductivity using a Walsmeta meter. A second insemination was administered either 8 or 16 hours later. Artificial insemination with fresh semen (0 to 3 days old) was used throughout the experiment. Gilts were slaughtered on Day 3 (n = 26), Day 10 (n = 42), Day 30 of gestation (n = 45) or they were allowed to farrow (n = 36). Gilts slaughtered on Day 3 were used to estimate the fertilization rate. Gilts slaughtered on Day 10 and Day 30 were used to calculate embryonic mortality, while fetal mortality was calculated from the gilts that farrowed. The mean (+/-SEM) number of corpora lutea (CL) was 13.15+/-0.46, 13.36+/-0.37 and 12.97+/-0.39 for gilts slaughtered at Days 3, 10 and 30, respectively (P>0.05), and the mean (+/-SEM) number of normal embryos recovered was 11.12+/-0.69, 9.46+/-0.55 and 9.33+/-0.58, respectively. Litter size at parturition was 9.10+/-0.54. There was a significant difference between the number of normal embryos on Day 3 and Day 30 (P=0.05) and also between the number of normal embryos at Day 3 and the number of piglets at term. Ninety percent of the ova were recovered at Day 3. The fertilization rate was calculated either 1) assuming that unrecovered ova had a similar fertilization rate as the recovered ova (FRER=94.5+/-2.0%) or 2) assuming that unrecovered ova were unfertilized (FROR=84.5+/-2.5%). It was concluded that FRER was a more accurate estimation of the fertilization rate. Based on this fertilization rate, embryonic mortality between Day 3 and Day 10 was 20.8+/-8.3%, with an additional 12.5+/-7.1% loss between Day 10 and Day 30, when all gilts were included (P = 0.308). Thus the total prenatal loss, including fertilization failure, up to Day 10 was 26.3% and to Day 30 it was 38.8%. Fetal mortality was 2.2%, giving a total prenatal mortality (excluding fertilization failure) of 35.5% and a prenatal loss of 41%. Most of the prenatal loss was due to embryonic mortality. In those gilts that remained pregnant most of the embryonic loss occurred before Day 10 (19.0+/-6.3%; P=0.003). There was no further loss between Day 10 and 30 of pregnancy. There was a significant difference between the loss from Day 3 to Day 10 compared with the loss from Day 10 to Day 30 (P=0.05); therefore, most of the embryonic loss in pregnant gilts occurred before Day 10. Since fetal mortality was 3.2+/-6.3%, most of the prenatal loss was due to embryonic mortality.