Most reproductive failures originate during the periconceptional period and are influenced by the age and the lifestyle of parents-to-be. We advance the hypothesis that these failures can arise as a partial consequence of derangements to one-carbon (1-C) metabolism (i.e. metabolic pathways that utilize substrates/cofactors such as methionine, vitamin B12, folate). 1-C metabolic pathways drive the synthesis of proteins, biogenic amines and lipids required for early growth, together with the synthesis and methylation of DNA and histones essential for the regulation of gene expression. We review how deficiencies in periconceptional 1-C metabolism affect fertility and development together with underlying mechanisms derived from animal studies.