Summary. Capacitation of rhesus monkey spermatozoa was assessed by monitoring sperm flagellar beat and trajectory changes during incubation in vitro and by determining sperm penetration into rhesus oocytes and hamster zona-free ova. Rhesus sperm capacitation in vitro depended on the addition to the culture medium of the cyclic nucleotide mediators, caffeine and dibutyryl cyclic AMP. Capacitation was correlated with the development of hyperactivated motility. Spermatozoa treated with the cyclic nucleotide mediators, and showing hyperactivated motility, penetrated 57·4% of all rhesus oocytes and fertilized 88·9% of mature rhesus oocytes that were morphologically normal. Control spermatozoa did not penetrate any of the eggs. Some sperm penetration into hamster ova occurred but was not statistically significant. These data provide a basis for achieving in-vitro fertilization in the rhesus monkey and information on specific sperm motility characteristics associated with fertilizing ability.