The effect of relaxin, a peptide hormone present in seminal plasma, on the penetration of cervical mucus by washed human sperm in vitro was studied. Penetration was analyzed by two methods. The total number of sperm per 100 x field at the 10-mm, 20-mm, and 30-mm points along a mucus-filled capillary tube was counted and the farthest distance 100 sperm and 5 sperm/100 x field penetrated the capillary tube was measured. These measurements were made at 30, 60, and 90 minutes. Treating washed sperm with physiologic concentrations of relaxin resulted in significantly increased sperm penetration as compared with sperm treated with albumin or buffer. Replacing seminal plasma to washed sperm resulted in equivalently increased penetration. The findings strongly suggest that relaxin is necessary for proper penetration of cervical mucus by human sperm.