Solubilized and partially purified adenylate cyclase from bull sperm was found to be specifically activated (up to 6-fold) by sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and to a lesser extent by NaNO3. Other sodium salts were either ineffective (e.g. NaCOOH) or inhibitory (e.g. NaHSO3, NaHSO4 and Na2B4O7). Stimulation by NaHCO3 was dose-dependent in the range of 0-40 mM and was greater when enzyme activity was assayed in the presence of magnesium as compared with manganese ions. Bicarbonate seems to affect maximal enzyme velocity (Vmax) and has no effect on the Km of adenylate cyclase for Mn-ATP. Stimulation of adenylate cyclase by NaHCO3 coincided with the elution pattern of the enzyme as recorded following chromatography on DEAE-cellulose or gel filtration on BioGel P-100. These results suggest that in the course of stimulation of sperm adenylate cyclase, bicarbonate is likely to interact directly with the enzyme. Furthermore, this intrinsic and unique property of sperm adenylate cyclase may explain results reported by others on the stimulation of cAMP production by bicarbonate in intact and broken sperm preparations and suggest a biochemical basis for enhanced sperm motility associated with high bicarbonate concentrations.