During a 7-day conditioning treatment of clumps of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) somatic embryos on a medium containing 0.75 M sucrose, the fructose and glucose concentrations remained constant, whereas a ten-fold and twenty-fold increase were noted for sucrose and starch concentrations, respectively. The only new sugar detected was arabinose which remained at a low concentration. After conditioning on media supplemented with various sugars and polyols at similar osmolarities, recovery of clumps of embryo growth was satisfactory except with ribose. After an additional desiccation period, survival was optimal with fructose, galactose, sucrose and glucose, intermediate with maltose and lower with other compounds. When embryos were cryopreserved without previous desiccation, survival was noted after conditioning treatment with sucrose only. In contrast, when freezing was performed after dehydration, survival could be obtained with several substances. It was optimal with sucrose, fructose, galactose and raffinose but was possible also with sorbitol and glucose. Intensity of recovery of proliferation was highest with embryos conditioned with sucrose.