In a group of normospermic donors exhibiting hamster oocyte penetration scores of 0-100%, multiple regression analysis indicated that only 20% of the variation in fertilizing potential could be explained by differences in the movement characteristics of the spermatozoa following incubation in vitro. When the movement characteristics of the spermatozoa in semen were considered this figure was reduced to 6.8% as a result of significant differences in the motility patterns exhibited by the seminal and post-incubation sperm populations. A much closer relationship was observed between the movement characteristics of human spermatozoa in semen and their ability to penetrate cervical mucus. When differences in motile sperm densities were taken into account, 76% of the variation in cervical mucus penetration could be accounted for by the existence of linear correlations with certain aspects of sperm movement (multiple R = 0.874). Of the various attributes of sperm motility measured (linear velocity of progression, frequency of rotation, amplitude of sperm head displacement, % rolling and % yawing), a failure to exhibit an adequate amplitude of lateral sperm head displacement was consistently found to be the most significant factor determining the success of sperm-cervical mucus interaction (R2 = 0.53).