Implantation, a critical step for establishing pregnancy, requires molecular and cellular events resulting in healthy uterine growth and differentiation, blastocyst adhesion, invasion and placental formation. Successful implantation requires a receptive endometrium, a normal and functional embryo at the blastocyst stage and a synchronized dialogue between maternal and embryonic tissues. In addition to the main role of sex steroids, the complexity of embryo implantation and placentation is exemplified by the number of cytokines and growth factors with demonstrated roles in these processes. Disturbances of the normal expression and action of these cytokines result in absolute or partial failure of implantation and abnormal placental formation in mice and humans. Members of the gp 130 cytokine family, interleukin (IL)-11 and leukaemia inhibitory factor, the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily, colony-stimulating factors, and the IL-1 and IL-15 systems are all crucial for successful implantation. In addition, chemokines are important both in recruiting specific cohorts of leukocytes to the implantation site, and in trophoblast trafficking and differentiation. This review provides discussion on embryonic and uterine factors that are involved in the process of implantation in autocrine, paracrine and/or juxtacrine manners at hormonal, cellular, and molecular levels.