<title> ABSTRACT </title>This paper analyses the social life of a scientific image frequently used in media coverage of human genetic and biotechnology issues. The expression "social life of an image" refers to the set of functions performed in the public sphere and the relations interweaved with narratives and discourses. This paper starts from the assumption that the sense of an image is reflexive to its local contexts of use. Therefore, the social meaning of an image relies on the web of discursive links which constitute its social life. The paper explores the functions performed by a photograph of a fertilized oocyte in Italian media coverage of human genetic issues. We conclude asserting that such an image: (a) acts as a visual link between several controversial issues; (b) it has become the icon of a general master-frame of human genetics issues and (c) it takes a not neutral part in the debates over these issues.