The ability of spermatozoa with round head syndrome to penetrate zona pellucida-free hamster ova and to undergo nuclear decondensation was studied in three infertile patients. Whereas spermatozoa from pregnancy-proven donors bound to hamster ova and achieved a penetration rate of 100%, those with round heads did not bind to or penetrate any ova. While spermatozoa nuclear decondensation occurs after ovum penetration and indicates a positive result, it has now been demonstrated that this phenomenon can also be induced by incubating spermatozoa with crushed hamster ova. In addition, nuclei from normal and round-headed spermatozoa decondense in the presence of these ova to a similar degree. These observations suggest that infertility related to round head sperm morphology is associated with an inability to interact with and penetrate the oolemma, rathern than dysfunctional spermatozoan changes following penetration.