Ovulatory response to the first GnRH of Ovsynch is a very important factor for determining the outcome of a successful synchronization. The aim of the present study was to develop a protocol to increase the percentage of cows that ovulated in response to the first administration of Ovsynch. This study was designed to compare ovulation rates in response to GnRH or hCG at the beginning of Ovsynch and to evaluate the effects of this manipulation on pregnancy. Cows (n = 371) with corpus luteum (CL) and at least one follicle greater than 10 mm diameter size on either ovary were included in the study. Cows were divided into two groups. The Ovsynch protocol began with GnRH (10 mu g) in the GPO group (n = 161; GnRH-7d-PGF2 alpha-56h-GnRH-18h-AI), whereas in the HPG group, the first GnRH of the Ovsynch was replaced with 1500 IU hCG (n = 210; hCG-7d-PGF2 alpha-56h-GnRH-18h-AI). Ovarian ultrasonography was performed at the times of GnRH or hCG and of PGF2 alpha administration, at the time of artificial insemination (AI) and seven days after Al, to determine ovulation. Maximal follicle size at the beginning of the Ovsynch did not affect on response to the first GnRH/hCG treatment. Conception rate (31 d) was 0.6 times more likely to be higher (P < 0.001) in cows that responded to the first hormonal administration of Ovsynch than in those that did not respond (95% CI = 0.29-0.71). Conception rate was found to be different between the HPG (37.6%, 79/210) and the GPO groups (48.4%, 78/161). Thus, beginning of the Ovsynch protocol with hCG did not increase ovulation and conception rate in lactating dairy cows, suggesting that hCG is not a suitable replacement of the first GnRH of Ovsynch. However, our results do show that increasing the ovulation rate in response to the first hormonal administration of Ovsynch can have a significant effect on conception rate. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.