Due to its extensive production and application, the toxicity of chloracetanilide herbicide alachlor[2-chloro-2',6'-diethyl-N-(methoxymethyl)-acetanilide] should be evaluated to establish minimum effects. In this study, we have examined the in vitro effects of alachlor on human sperm motion using a computer-assisted sperm analyser (CASA). An evaluation of both reactive oxygen species (ROS) and markers of apoptosis was also performed to investigate the mechanism by which alachlor modifies the sperm movement. After exposure up to 2 h to alachlor (0, 0.18, 0.37, 0.90 and 1.85 mM), the percentage of viable, motile spermatozoa and sperm velocities were concentration and/or time dependently decreased. The most sensitive parameters were progressive motility, mean average path velocity and mean straight velocity. Alachlor (1.85 mM) induced an increase in ROS production. A decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)), an increase of both phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization and DNA fragmentation, which were concentration and/or time dependent, were also observed. It is possible that toxic effects of alachlor result in an oxidative stress which could act as a mediator of apoptosis. Alachlor could also contribute to some hypofertility cases.