The lipids and proteins of sperm cells are highly regionalized in their lateral distribution. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching studies of sperm membrane component lateral diffusibility have shown that the sperm plasma membrane is also highly regionalized in the extents and rates of diffusion of its surface components. These studies have also shown that regionalized changes in lateral diffusibility occur during the differentiative processes of epididymal maturation and capacitation. Unlike mammalian somatic cells, sperm cells exhibit large nondiffusing lipid fractions. In this paper, we will show that both regionalized lipid diffusibility and nondiffusing lipid fractions develop with the morphogenesis of cell shape during spermatogenesis in the mouse. Pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids show diffusion rates and the nearly complete recoveries (80-90%) typical of mammalian somatic cells. In contrast, stage 10-11 condensing spermatids, testicular spermatozoa, cauda epididymal spermatozoa, as well as the anucleate structures associated with these later stages of spermatogenesis (residual bodies and the cytoplasmic droplets of condensing spermatids and testicular spermatozoa), exhibit large nondiffusing fractions. Both the diffusion rates and diffusing fractions observed on the anterior and posterior regions of the head of stage 10-11 condensing spermatids are the same as the values obtained for these regions on testicular spermatozoa. Possible mechanisms of lipid immobilization and possible physiological implications of this nondiffusing lipid are discussed.

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