The presence of highly acetylated histone H4 during spermatogenesis was studied to evaluate its correlation with the events of gene transcription, histone deposition, and histone displacement. We utilized an antibody raised to a pentaacetylated synthetic peptide that preferentially recognizes highly (tetra- and tri-) acetylated forms of rat testis H4. Electrophoretic separation of histones from enriched fractions of spermatogenic cells followed by detection of these forms by staining and by immunoblotting using this antibody showed that the highly acetylated forms were limited almost exclusively to spermatids beginning at step 11 of development. Immunoflurescence also revealed a striking polarity in the progression of histone from the spermatid nucleus. Highly acetylated H4 was displaced from the anterior to the caudal portion of the spermatid nucleus during steps 11 and 12, along with other histones, prior to their displacement by transition proteins. Thus, while monoacetylated and low levels of diacetylated forms of H4 were associated with stages at which histone deposition and transcription occur, the more highly acetylated forms appeared in high levels only at the stage at which histone displacement occurs.