Highly purified plasma membranes of maturing goat caput-, corpus- and cauda-epididymal spermatozoa were isolated by aqueous two-phase polymer methods and their lipid constituents were analysed. Phospholipid (approx. 75% w/w), neutral lipid (approx. 15% w/w) and glycolipid (approx. 10% w/w) were the major sperm membrane lipids. There was a significant decrease in the total lipids (approx. 25% w/w), phospholipid (approx. 30% w/w) and glycolipid (approx. 80% w/w) contents of sperm membrane during epididymal maturation. On the contrary, the mature cauda-sperm membrane showed greater (approx. 50% w/w) neutral lipid content than that of the immature caput sperm. Phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and sphingomyelin were the phospholipids of the sperm membrane, the former two being the major lipids. Both PC and PE fractions consisted of three species - diacyl, alkylacyl and alkenylacyl forms, the last one being the dominant species in both PC and PE. Of all the phospholipids, diacyl PE decreased most strikingly (approx. 65% w/w) during sperm maturation. The neutral lipid fraction contained sterols, wax esters, 1-O-alkyl-2,3-diacylglycerol, triacylglycerol and fatty acids. Sterols represented nearly 75% w/w of the neutral lipids and cholesterol was the major component (approx. 95% w/w) of the sterol fraction. The sperm maturity was associated with marked increase of sterol (approx. 60% w/w) and steryl ester (approx. 200% w/w) and decrease (approx. 50-65% w/w) of the other membrane-bound neutral lipids. The glycolipid was identified as monogalactosyldiacylglycerol. The fatty acid profile of the various membrane lipids underwent marked alteration during the epididymal transit of the male gametes. Cholesterol/phospholipid and saturated/unsaturated fatty acid ratios increased greatly in the maturing sperm membrane. The altered lipid profile of the mature sperm membrane leads to changes in its fluidity that play an important role in determining the structure and functions of the biomembrane. © 1991.