Cryopreservation increases the rate of apoptotic spermatozoa withdecreased capability to fertilise oocytes. In order to optimise thefertilisation rates, especially in assisted reproduction the use of apoptoticsperms should be avoided. Early events of apoptosis in cryopreservedspermatozoaare not detectable by conventional methods. However, the surface of apoptoticspermatozoa is characterised by externalisation of phosphatidylserine (PS),which has a high affinity to Annexin V. Therefore, colloid paramagneticAnnexin-V-conjugated microbeads (AN-MB) were tested fortheir ability to eliminate apoptotic spermatozoa from a total of 40 fresh andinTEST yolk buffer cryopreserved semen samples which were provided by 15 healthyvolunteers. By passing through a magnetic field (MiniMACS, Miltenyi Biotec) thesperm suspensions were divided into 2 sperm fractions depending on boundmagnetic Annexin V-microbeads (AN-MB) to spermatozoa. Asadditional markers of apoptosis CD95 (Fas, APO-1) on the sperm surfaceand activated caspases in the cytosol were detected in both fractions.Supplementary investigations comprised eosin-supravital staining andcomputer assisted sperm motion analysis. The separation was supervised by flowcytometric analysis of spermatozoa labelled with FITC-conjugated antiAnnexin V-antibodies.Analyses of the magnetic inactive sperm fraction (AN-MB-negative)showed CD95 on 0.6 ± 0.3% (X ± SEM) of spermatozoa andonly3.2 ± 0.5% were stainable with eosin, whereas, 40.6 ±6.7% of the remaining cells in the column appeared to be CD95 positiveand 99.8 ± 0.1% stainable with eosin after cryopreservation.Indeed the overall amount of CD95 positive spermatozoa did not significantlyincrease after cryopreservation (2.5 ± 0.5% vs. 4.3 ±1.2%; p > 0.05). Activated caspases were found in 21.8 ±2.6% of the spermatozoa in fresh and in 47.7 ± 5.8% ofcryopreserved semen samples (p < 0.01). The separation procedure of thecryopreserved spermatozoa reduced significantly the quantity of thosecontainingactivated caspases to 9.3 ± 2.2% within theAN-MB-negative fraction. In contrast 89.1 ± 2.3% ofAN-MB-positive sperms showed activation of these proteolyticenzymes. Flow cytometric analyses using FITC-conjugated anti AnnexinV-antibodies for monitoring of AN-MB-binding to spermatozoashowed 5.2 ± 1.0% labelled spermatozoa in the AN-MBnegative fraction and 72.6 ± 2.7% labelled spermatozoa in theAN-MB positive one. There was no significant influence of the separationcolumn and the magnetic field on the sperm functions. The passage through thecolumn led to a sperm loss of 0.8 ± 1.2%.Conclusion: The binding of paramagnetic AnnexinV-conjugated microbeads is an excellent method to eliminate spermatozoaat early apoptotic stages from cryopreserved semen samples. A deleteriousinfluence of the separation column and the magnetic field on the spermatozoawasnot observed.