The effect of carazolol on the ease of penetrating the cervix during artificial insemination, lambing rate and litter size was studied using 1.5-4.0-year old Kivircik ewes in an incomplete 3 x 2 x 2 experimental design. All of the ewes in this study were synchronized for oestrus by insertion of a progesterone impregnated vaginal sponge for 12 days and administration of 400 IU PMSG at sponge withdrawal. Three methods of service were compared: natural service, artificial insemination (AI) with fresh semen, or AI with frozen semen. Two times of insemination (fixed time AI versus AI at observed oestrus) were compared on the fresh and frozen AI treatments. The absence (control) or use of carazolol (carazolol; 0.5 mg/ewe i.m. 30 min before mating) was the third factor in the design and penetration of the cervix by the insemination pipette was assessed as shallow (<10 mm), middle (10-20 mm) or deep (>20 mm). Natural service ewes were only mated at observed oestrus. Consequently, the factorial design was incomplete and there were a total of 10 treatments each represented by 30 ewes. Natural service resulted in a significantly (P < 0.05) higher lambing rate and litter size (86%; 2.0 +/- 0.05 lambs/ewe) than AI using fresh (65%; 1.6 +/- 0.1 lambs/ewe) or frozen (40%; 1.4 +/- 0.14 lambs/ewe) semen. For AI animals the lambing rate and litter size were not significantly different when service was at a fixed time (50%; 1.5 +/- 0.12 lambs/ewe) or at observed oestrus (56%; 1.5 +/- 0.12 lambs/ewe). Carazolol did not permit complete cervical penetration in any ewe. Deep penetration of the cervix at AI was achieved in 33% of untreated (control) and 48% of carazolol treated ewes (P<0.05). However, the proportion of ewes in which penetration of the cervix and semen deposition was greater than shallow was similar for control (82%) and carazolol (85%), and lambing rate and litter size were similar for both treatments. Over the three service methods, the lambing rate was 56% for control and 63% for carazolol (NS) and litter size was similar for both treatments. It was concluded that the carazolol treatment used prior to natural mating or AI in this experiment did not improve lambing rate or litter size in Kivircik ewes. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.