In the transformation of a spermatid into a spermatozoon, cytoplasmic loss occurs, allowing the sperm to swim unhindered. Cytoplasmic loss takes place via elimination of the residual body and through structures known as tubulobulbar complexes. A determination of cytoplasmic loss in several species was undertaken by using high-resolution electron microscopic morphometric techniques. During the period that tubulobulbar complexes are present, an average 53% cytoplasmic loss was recorded for five species (guinea pig, 48.8 +/- 6.2% (SEM); monkey, 60.3 +/- 4.3%; opossum, 54.5 +/- 4.4%; rabbit, 46.9 +/- 2.7%; and rat, 55.7 +/- 4.9%), whereas there was essentially no loss or gain in cytoplasm during the same period for round spermatids. Surprisingly, during spermatid elongation an approximate 36% loss of cytoplasm was also recorded for five species (guinea pig, 50.1 +/- 6.3%; monkey, 30.0 +/- 15.4%; opossum, 25.4 +/- 9.0%; rabbit, 42.4 +/- 8.6%; and rat, 34.9 +/- 11.9%), which is only partially (approximately 60%) accounted for by fluid pumping from the nucleus during nuclear condensation. A densification of the cytoplasm of elongate spermatids, as compared with round spermatids, suggests fluid is also pumped from the elongating spermatid cytoplasm. Fluid loss from germ cells may contribute to the seminiferous tubule fluid, a fluid previously thought to be solely of Sertoli-cell origin.