Successful liberation and apposition of gametes are essential components of fertility. Normal fertilisation depends upon the establishment of a pre-ovulatory sperm gradient in the female tract between the site of semen deposition and the site of fertilisation in the Fallopian tubes. As a consequence, sperm: egg ratios may be close to unity at the time of activation of most secondary oocytes under conditions of spontaneous mating. In the absence of a sufficient sperm gradient, newly ovulated eggs would be confronted by an excess of spermatozoa resulting in polyspermic fertilisation. Penetration of the vitellus by more than one spermatozoon is pathological in mammals (Beatty, 1957; Austin, 1963). Accordingly, systems that act to regulate sperm progression and competence before the time of ovulation assume a particular importance. During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, there was much controversy as to the rate of sperm transport into the Fallopian tubes. Because observations failed to focus on those spermatozoa that could fertilise eggs, the controversy was largely sterile. Nor were the disagreements well founded since some experiments employed artificial insemination whilst others used natural mating. These two quite distinct approaches to introducing a sperm suspension into the female tract could not reasonably form the basis of disagreements on the physiological events of cellular progression. More recent studies have been set in perspective by Overstreet (1983), Harper (1988), Yanagimachi (1988), Hunter (1988, 1991, 1995) and Drobnis & Overstreet (1992)After mating at the onset of oestrus, ram and bull spermatozoa require a minimum of 6–8 h to reach the Fallopian tubes in sufficient numbers to promote suc.cessful fertilisation (Hunter et al., 1980; Hunter & Wilmut, 1982). Spermatozoa displaced to the tubes in a small number of minutes are moribund or dead, not.