The effect of temperature on sperm motility was investigated in brown trout Salmo trutta, burbot Lota lota and grayling Thymallus thymallus using water and sperm motility prolonging saline solution (SMPS) for motility activation. The effect of temperature (4–20° C) on spermatozoal enzymes for energy supply [malate dehydrogenase (MDH), pyruvate kinase (PK), adenylate kinase (AK)], flagellar movement [Mg2+adenosine triposphatase (ATPase)] and oxidative defence [peroxidase (POX)] were measured in S. trutta and L. lota. Temperatures yielding the highest initial sperm motility rates and swimming velocities were 4–6° C for S. trutta [investigated range (IR) = 4–12° C] and L. lota (IR = 2–8° C) and 8–16° C (IR = 4–16° C) for T. thymallus. Motility variables were re-measured after 30 s in S. trutta, after 45 s in T. thymallus and after 60 s in L. lota in water and after 2 min in all investigated species in SMPS. Motility variables were increased by low temperatures and the results differed between water and SMPS. In S. trutta and L. lota, the temperature resulting in highest activities of MDH, PK, AK and ATPase was 4° C. POX had a very narrow temperature optimum at 20° C in both species. This may indicate that the temperature optimum of enzymes of energy supply and flagellar movement are closely related to motility. The present data show that the variables are affected by temperatures in an ecologically relevant range. Too low, as well as too high temperatures affected sperm motility, and the winter spawners (S. trutta and L. lota) have a narrower temperature optimum than the spring spawner T. thymallus.