Sperm cells and seminal plasma of various mammals contain high levels of arylsulfatase. In the present study, we investigated the composition of soluble AS in these compartments of boar semen by analysing sperm cells and seminal plasma using anion-exchange chromatography. Seminal plasma contained both arylsulfatase B (2.4 units per ml), an enzyme which desulfates sulfoglycosaminoglycans and probably sulfoglycoproteins, and arylsulfatase A (10.2 units per ml), an enzyme which desulfates sulfogalactolipids. Sperm cells contained only arylsulfatase A, which differed biochemically from the extracellular arylsulfatase A of seminal plasma (2.6 units per ml). Both types of arylsulfatase A desulfate seminolipid, the natural sulfolipid substrate in sperm, as well as two brain sulfatides. The possible physiological consequences of the presence of extracellular arylsulfatases in seminal plasma for spermatozoa are discussed.