This study was designed to determine the effect of melatonin on the in vitro maturation (IVM) and developmental potential of bovine oocytes denuded of the cumulus oophorus (DOs). DOs were cultured alone (DOs) or with 10−9 M melatonin (DOs + MT), cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured without melatonin as the control. After IVM, meiosis II (MII) rates of DOs, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, apoptotic rates and parthenogenetic blastocyst rates of MII oocytes were determined. The relative expression of ATP synthase F0 Subunit 6 and 8 (ATP6 and ATP8), bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP-15) and growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF-9) mRNA in MII oocytes and IFN-tau (IFN-τ), Na+/K+-ATPase, catenin-beta like 1 (CTNNBL1) and AQP3 mRNA in parthenogenetic blastocysts were quantified using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The results showed that: (1) melatonin significantly increased the MII rate of DOs (65.67 ± 3.59 % vs. 82.29 ± 3.92%; P < 0.05), decreased the ROS level (4.83 ± 0.42 counts per second (c.p.s) vs. 3.78 ± 0.29 c.p.s; P < 0.05) and apoptotic rate (36.99 ± 3.62 % vs. 21.88 ± 2.08 %; P < 0.05) and moderated the reduction of relative mRNA levels of ATP6, ATP8, BMP-15 and GDF-9 caused by oocyte denudation; (2) melatonin significantly increased the developmental rate (24.17 ± 3.54 % vs. 35.26 ± 4.87%; P < 0.05), and expression levels of IFN-τ, Na+/K+-ATPase, CTNNBL1 and AQP3 mRNA of blastocyst. These results indicated that melatonin significantly improved the IVM quality of DOs, leading to an increased parthenogenetic blastocyst formation rate and quality.