There is pharmacological evidence that Ca2+ channels play an essential role in triggering the mammalian sperm acrosome reaction, an exocytotic process required for sperm to fertilize the egg. Spermatozoa are small terminally differentiated cells that are difficult to study by conventional electrophysiological techniques. To identify the members of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel family possibly present in sperm, we have looked for the expression of the alpha 1A, alpha 1B, alpha 1C, alpha 1D and alpha 1E genes in mouse testis and in purified spermatogenic cell populations with RT-PCR. Our results indicate that all 5 genes are expressed in mouse testis, and in contrast only alpha 1E, and to a minor extent alpha 1A, are expressed in spermatogenic cells. In agreement with these findings, only T-type Ca2+ channels sensitive to the dihydropyridine nifedipine were observed in patch-clamp recordings of pachytene spermatocytes. These results suggest that low-threshold Ca2+ channels are the dihydropyridine-sensitive channels involved in the sperm acrosome reaction.