In this study, we have examined the relationship between creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a biochemical measure of human sperm quality (Huszar et al., 1988 a, b, 1990; Huszar and Vigue, 1994), and a marker for the presence of residual cytoplasm in human spermatozoa, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH). We then determined whether the diagnostic potential of these enzymes was related to the capacity of the sperm suspensions to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or the presence of leukocytes and precursor germ cells. Across the data set as a whole, G6PDH and CPK were highly correlated with each other and, to a lesser extent, with the generation of ROS. Contamination of the sperm suspensions with leukocytes might have contributed to these associations, since the presence of such cells was also significantly correlated with CPK, G6PDH, and ROS. However, even after the leukocytes had been carefully removed, G6PDH was still highly correlated with CPK (r = 0.794), indicating that both criteria were providing similar information on the cytosolic component of human sperm suspensions. In the absence of leukocyte contamination, CPK and G6PDH activities were also correlated with the presence of precursor germ cells, and this association may, in part, explain the diagnostic value of these criteria. An additional component of their prognostic value may be reflected in the statistically significant association observed between G6PDH activity and ROS generation. A possible mechanism for such an association is suggested, which should be amenable to experimental verification. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.