Telomeres are located at the ends of all eukaryotic chromosomes and protect them from deleterious events such as inappropriate DNA repair, illegitimate recombination or improper segregation of the chromosomes during mitotic or meiotic divisions. However, telomeres gradually shorten primarily due to successive rounds of genomic DNA replication and also as the result of the adverse effects of oxidative stress, genotoxic agents, diseases related to ageing and environmental factors on the nuclear materials of dividing or non-dividing cells. Germline cells, proliferative granulosa cells, early embryos, stem cells, highly proliferative somatic cells and many cancer cells contain the enzyme telomerase so that they are capable of elongating the shortened telomeres. Although numerous studies have revealed the length of telomeres and telomerase activity in oocytes, granulosa cells and early embryos, only a few studies have analyzed and compared the work performed on distinct mammalian species. In this comprehensive review article, we compare and discuss telomere length and telomerase activity in oocytes, granulosa cells and early embryos in different mammalian species including mice, bovines and humans.