Subfertility affects one in seven couples in the western world. Although the availability of assisted reproduction has changed the outlook for many childless couples, the procedures themselves have far-reaching implications in terms of invasiveness, acceptability and cost. There is now greater awareness that effective care involves using treatments that combine efficacy, appropriateness and efficiency with safety. Randomized trials addressing assisted reproduction are few and generally tend to suffer from a number of methodological inadequacies. Although IVF continues to be the treatment of choice for couples with persistent infertility, there is currently insufficient evidence from trial data to indicate that IVF is more effective than the other treatment options available for unexplained infertility. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is beneficial in severe male factor infertility but is not warranted in other situations. There is an urgent need to focus on developing strategies to improve success rates of assisted reproduction and minimize the side-effects such as ovarian hyperstimulation and multiple pregnancy. Multiple pregnancy is the most common major complication of IVF and has a profound effect on maternal and neonatal morbidity as well as health service costs.