The globozoospermic condition has provided a unique opportunity to determine how the abnormal mitochondrial organization and acrosomal loss associated with this syndrome, influence sperm function. Despite the abnormal midpiece architecture, the movement characteristics of the spermatozoa, in terms of the curvilinear, path, and progressive velocities, amplitude of head displacement, and hyperactivation were all within the normal range. Similarly, the behavior of the spermatozoa on Percoll gradients was normal, although the capacity of the isolated fractions to generate reactive oxygen species was negligible. Of particular significance was the fact that the globozoospermic spermatozoa were incapable of sperm-oocyte fusion or binding the human zona pellucida, even after an intracellular calcium signal had been generated with the ionophore A23187. The sudden induction of sperm-zona interaction could, however, be achieved by the use of a ferrous ion promoter system to induce limited lipoperoxidation. This result demonstrates that the enhancing effect of peroxidation on sperm-zona adhesion involves a direct action on the properties of the sperm-plasma membrane, rather than an indirect consequence of acrosomal damage and acrosin leakage. Such findings emphasize the value of specific teratozoospermic conditions, such as globozoospermia, in dissecting the mechanisms that regulate human sperm function.