Prior to fertilization, mammalian sperm must undergo the acrosome reaction, which involves modifications of the plasma and outer acrosomal membranes followed by vesiculation and release of the membranes. The membrane fraction that was released from caudal boar sperm undergoing an in vitro acrosome-like reaction was isolated and characterized with respect to density, marker enzymes and lipid composition. This membrane had a lower phospholipid/protein ratio (mg/mg) than the sperm plasma membrane, whereas both membranes had similar molar sterol/phospholipid ratios. The major phospholipid was sphingomyelin, followed by phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine, whereas in the plasma membrane the order was reversed; the two major phosphoglycerides contained alkylacyl and alkenylacyl species in addition to the diacyl species. The released membrane also contained lower amounts of cholesterol sulfate and unsaturated fatty acids than the plasma membranes. These results, in combination with our studies on the changes of the sperm membranes during maturation and acrosome reaction, will allow a better understanding of the mechanism of the sperm acrosome reaction.