Composition and thermotropic phase behavior of sperm membrane lipids from species ranging in sensitivity to cold shock were determined. Lipids from whole sperm and sperm plasma membrane were fractionated into neutral lipid, glycolipid, and phospholipid fractions. Compositional analyses were completed for free sterols, phospholipids and phospholipid-bound fatty acids. Phase transition temperatures were determined for phospholipid and glycolipid fractions using differential scanning calorimetry. Cholesterol was the major sterol in sperm lipids of all species. Cholesterol to phospholipid molar ratios were 0.26, 0.30, 0.36, and 0.45 for sperm plasma membrane of the boar, rooster, stallion, and bull, respectively. Choline and ethanolamine phosphoglycerides and sphingomyelin were the major phospholipid classes in sperm and their proportions differed across species. Phospholipid-bound fatty acyl compositions of choline and ethanolamine phosphoglycerides were characterized by a high proportion of docosapentanoyl and docosahexanoyl groups in mammalian sperm and shorter, more saturated groups in rooster sperm. Glycolipids represented less than 10% of total polar lipids for all species. Thin-layer chromatographic analysis indicated that the major glycolipid component of rooster sperm was different from that of mammalian sperm. Peak phase transition temperatures (Tm) for sperm membrane phospholipids were 24.0, 25.4, 20.7 and 24.5, for the boar, stallion, and rooster, respectively. Corresponding Tm's for glycolipids were 36.2, 42.8, and 33.4 with no exotherm for rooster sperm glycolipids. These results demonstrate a difference in both composition and thermotropic phase behavior of glycolipids between rooster and mammalian sperm which may be related to the greater tolerance of rooster sperm to rapid cooling.