Long-lasting embryonic dormancy in invertebrates defies our understanding of what constitutes life because, for example, eggs of some copepods can delay hatching for decades or even centuries. Copepods, often millimeter-sized crustaceans, are some of the most numerous multicellular organisms on earth and are key organisms in most aquatic food webs. Some important free-living marine and estuarine species overwinter or oversummer by arrested embryogenesis in dormancy. The present contribution discusses the complex mechanisms behind embryonic dormancy by compiling knowledge from the 42 calanoid copepods from the superfamily Centropagoidea with well-described embryonic dormancy, which has been of scientific interest for decades. However, the determination of categories of copepod resting eggs-that is, diapause and quiescence, transitions between categories, the mechanisms controlling arrested development by the embryos, and how they interact with their surroundings-is not fully understood. Moreover, a clear link between the presence of the free-swimming population and their resting eggs in sediments is still not convincingly demonstrated. Here I evaluate the relative significance of potential cues driving the production of and the phase shift between egg categories. Understanding the initiation and termination of embryonic dormancy is of great importance for fundamental science-that is, population and food web ecology as well as climate science, aquaculture live feed, and ballast water research. Molecular techniques are developing rapidly, especially within health sciences, thus providing relevant tools applicable for plankton research. Here I suggest that applying molecular methods in addition to traditional physiological approaches in future research will lead to greater understanding of copepod embryonic dormancy, one of nature's wonders.