Abstract Reproductive failure and pregnancy loss in cattle are some of the largest economic burdens to cattle producers and one of most perplexing factors influencing management decisions. Pregnancy loss may occur at any point during gestation with the largest percentage of loss occurring in the first 30 days and, subsequently, decreasing as the pregnancy progresses. Losses may be attributed to numerous factors, predisposed issues or environmental conditions such as nutritional stressors or disease. From a research perspective, determining the exact causes of pregnancy loss or embryonic mortality in cattle have been difficult, due to limitations of accurately determining early gestation pregnancy status. Until methods that precisely determine embryo success early in gestation are available, our understanding of in vivo pregnancy loss will lack clarity necessary to develop management strategies to decrease such loss. In this review, we will briefly discuss the pivotal periods of pregnancy loss affecting beef and dairy cattle, methods and technologies to determine pregnancy status and embryo viability and potential opportunities to decrease reproductive failure.