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A genetic means of identifying "pregnancy competent" oocytes is provided. The means comprises detecting the level of expression of one or more genes that are expressed at characteristic levels (upregulated or downregulated) in cumulus cells derived from pregnancy competent oocytes. This characteristic gene expression level, or pattern referred to herein as the "pregnancy signature", also can be used to identify subjects with underlying conditions that impair or prevent the development of a viable pregnancy, e.g., pre-menopausal condition, other hormonal dysfunction, ovarian dysfunction, ovarian cyst, cancer or other cell proliferation disorder, autoimmune disease and the like. In preferred embodiments the pregnancy signature will comprise one or more of ABCA6, NCAM1, OLFML3, PTPRA, SDF4, GPR137B, DDIT4, DUSP1, GPR137B, IDUA, KCTD5, NDNL2, SLC26A3, and TERF2IP.