Members have voted to refer the legislation for further discussion on Monday, when a vote is planned.
Women now constitute a third of priests and there is a widespread feeling among Anglicans that the new role should be open to them.
But plans to exempt traditionalists from serving under women bishops have caused division within the Church.
Not since the Church voted to create women priests in 1992 has it faced such a momentous decision, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.
There has been a wish not to alienate traditionalists who oppose women bishops and the ending of centuries of tradition, our correspondent added.
This has resulted in a proposal that would give traditionalist parishes the right of access to an alternative, male, bishop, who shared their beliefs about women clergy.
But some liberal Anglicans claim this would render women "second class" bishops and they may vote to reject the draft legislation, along with conservatives opposed to it.
With the numbers so finely balanced, the stage is set for a dramatic debate on Monday, and a cliff-hanging moment as the vote is cast”
Q&A: Women bishops vote
Earlier, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged clergy and bishops from the Canterbury Diocese to approve the legislation in order for it to be debated further on Monday.
"We are looking into the abyss now," he warned.
"Like the majority of members of the synod, and the majority of the members of the Church of England, I am very firmly of the view that we need to proceed as speedily as we can to resolve this question because I, like most of you, long to see women bishops in the Church of England," he said.
"I also long for there to be the kind of provision for those who continue to have theological reservations on this subject, for their position to be secured in such a way that they can feel grateful for the outcome as others do."
The Synod could also opt to adjourn the debate further to allow amendments made to the proposal in May to be reconsidered.
Any adjournment would delay a final vote until November at the earliest. But a defeat would mean the appointment of women bishops would be at least another five years away.
The Synod needs a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod, of bishops, clergy and laity.
If approved there, it would be sent to Parliament for approval and Royal Assent. The earliest likely date for a woman bishop to be appointed would be 2014.
So far more than 1,000 lay Anglo-Catholics and 80 priests dissatisfied with the direction the Church of England is taking over women bishops have left to join the Ordinariate set up by the Vatican in 2011 for former Anglicans.
Headlines Newsview all
One of the richest towns in Britain also has the highest number of people having extramarital affairs, according to new research. Wealthy Maidenhead tops a new ... Full story
A trainee teacher hanged himself on New Year’s Eve after a split from his girlfriend, an inquest heard today. Keiran Walsh, 22, split from his partner ... Full story
Late on a dark and rainy night, it is all go-go-go down at White Dee’s house in Birmingham. There is a pan of fish stew ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Cheating map of UK reveals Maidenhead to be Britain's most adulterous town
- Trainee teacher hangs himself after split from the girlfriend he couldn’t live without
- Lacey Wildd has had 30 enhancement surgeries and is planning more
Smartphone owners in London may still be wondering over whether it’s worth making the jump from 3G to 4G, but for Boris Johnson the question is ...
Russia has been ordered to pay nearly £30bn in damages to former shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos after an international court ruled Moscow had ...
Brendan O'Carroll: Mrs Brown's Boys actor reduced to tears as he sees gun used to kill his grandfather
Brendan O'Carroll, star of Mrs Brown’s Boys, wept as he was shown the gun used to kill his grandfather. The comedian, who was tracing his family ...
Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter to distance himself from continuing rumours of a friendship between his daughter Elisabeth and David Cameron. The media mogul said ...
Jon Snow has made an emotional plea for an end to the violence that has led to deaths and maiming of scores of children in ...
Figures released to coincide with World Hepatitis Day have revealed that an estimated 1,200 blood transfusions carried out each year in England contain the hepatitis ...
Manchester City vs AC Milan: Mario Balotelli takes a break from 5-1 defeat to pose for selfie with pitch invaders
Mario Balotelli may have been on the losing end of a 5-1 mauling as Manchester City sent out a title warning to their Premier League ...
Model and actress Liberty Ross has finalised her divorce from director Rupert Sanders. The couple separated after Sanders was pictured embracing Twilight actress Kristen Stewart, who ...
Can't get enough of Sarah Palin? Well, you're in luck because the former Alaska governor has launched her own online TV channel. In a video celebrating ...
Peter Capaldi has revealed there will be no flirting with his co-star Jenna Coleman in the new series of Doctor Who. Former Doctor Matt Smith was ...