Catalase activity was determined in human semen by measuring the oxygen burst with a Clark electrode, after H2O2 addition. Significant catalase activities (mean +/- SD) were found in migrated, motile spermatozoa (44 +/- 17 nmoles O2/min/10(8) cells) and in seminal plasma of normozoospermic men (129 +/- 59 nmoles O2/min/ml). It has been demonstrated that seminal catalase originated from prostate; however, its activity was not correlated with the usual prostatic markers (such as citric acid and zinc). Our data suggest a multiglandular function secreted by this organ. The catalase activities measured in seminal samples from asthenozoospermic, infertile men were found lower than those from normozoospermic subjects. The understanding of the relative contribution of the different enzyme systems against O2 toxicity (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) seem to be a priority area of research to understand disturbances of sperm function.