The cervical mucus penetration tests aid research and determine the clinical importance of positive sperm antibody tests. Limited availability and variability of human cervical mucus have instigated the search for mucus substitutes for these tests. This study compares sperm migration in cervical mucus with that in artificial media including hyaluronate solution, egg white and albumin Tyrode solution. Results were quantified by measuring the migration distance (the maximum distance of capillary migration from a semen reservoir by spermatozoa after 1 h) and the sperm concentration at half the migration distance. The mean of both measures for cervical mucus and hyaluronate solution were equivalent [4.4 +/- 1.1 (SD) versus 4.3 +/- 1.0 cm and 118 +/- 51 versus 111 +/- 44x10(3)/ml], and higher than in egg white and albumin Tyrode solution. Antisperm antibodies impaired sperm penetration in cervical mucus and hyaluronate solution in a similar manner (r = 0.92). These results suggest that hyaluronate solution sufficiently resembles human cervical mucus in terms of penetrability that it may be used as a substitute for mucus in capillary tube tests of sperm function. The higher penetrability of cervical mucus and hyaluronate solution is probably related to a channelling effect due to their polymeric structure.