A number of acrosome reaction (AR) initiators have been found to be effective in inducing AR of human, laboratory and domestic animal sperm. Using an improved simple fluorescence microscopy, effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), progesterone and ionophore A23187 on sperm AR of tree shrew, a useful animal model in biomedical research, have been investigated. Spontaneous AR in 4.92-7.53% of viable sperm was observed. Complete AR in 10.31-18.25% of viable tree shrew sperm was obviously induced by 5 microM and 10 microM calcium ionophore A23187, 1 mM GABA, and 5 microM progesterone, and there were no significant differences between their abilities to initiate complete AR. No significant differences of AR percentages between 1- and 2-h treatments with A23187, progesterone and/or GABA were observed. These results suggested that the responses of tree shrew sperm to these AR initiators are similar to that of human and other mammalian sperm.