A monoclonal antibody, J18/29, induces the acrosome reaction (AR) in spermatozoa of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. J18/29 induces increases in both intracellular Ca2+ and intracellular pH similar to those occurring upon induction of the AR by the natural inducer, the fucose sulfate-rich glycoconjugate of egg jelly. Lowering the Ca2+ concentration or the pH of the seawater inhibits the J18/29-induced AR, as does treatment with Co2+, an inhibitor of Ca2+ channels. The J18/29-induced AR is also inhibited by verapamil, tetraethylammonium chloride, and elevated K+. All these treatments cause similar inhibition of the egg jelly-induced AR. J18/29 reacts with a group of membrane proteins ranging in molecular mass from 340 to 25 kD, as shown by immunoprecipitation of lysates of 125I-labeled sperm and Western blots. The most prominent reacting proteins are of molecular masses of 320, 240, 170, and 58 kD. The basis of the multiple reactivity appears to reside in the polypeptide chains of these proteins, as J18/29 binding is sensitive to protease digestion but resistant to periodate oxidation. There are approximately 570,000 sites per cell for J18/29 binding. J18/29 is the only reagent of known binding specificity that induces the AR; it identifies a subset of sperm membrane proteins whose individual characterization may lead to the isolation of the receptors involved in the triggering of the AR at fertilization.