The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of a chemically defined soybean lecithin-based semen extender as a substitute for egg yolk-based extenders in ram semen cryopreservation. In this study, 28 ejaculates were collected from four Zandi rams in the breeding season and then pooled together. The pooled semen was divided into six equal aliquots and diluted with six different extenders: (i) Tris-based extender (TE) containing 0.5% (w/v) soybean lecithin (SL0.5), (ii) TE containing 1% (w/v) soybean lecithin (SL1), (iii) TE containing 1.5% (w/v) soybean lecithin (SL1.5), (iv) TE containing 2% (w/v) soybean lecithin (SL2), (v) TE containing 2.5% (w/v) soybean lecithin (SL2.5) and (vi) TE containing 20% (v/v) egg yolk (EYT). After thawing, sperm motility and motion parameters, plasma membrane and acrosome integrity, apoptosis status and mitochondrial activity were evaluated. The results shown that total and progressive motility (54.43 ± 1.33% and 25.43 ± 0.96%, respectively) were significantly higher in SL1.5 when compared to other semen extenders. Sperm motion parameters (VAP, VSL, VCL, ALH and STR) were significantly higher in SL1.5 compared to other extender, with the exception of SL1 extender. Plasma membrane integrity (48.86 ± 1.38%) was significantly higher in SL1.5 when compared to other semen extenders. Also, percentage of spermatozoa with intact acrosome in SL1.5 (85.35 ± 2.19%) extender was significantly higher than that in SL0.5, SL2.5 and EYT extenders. The results showed that the proportion of live post-thawed sperm was significantly increased in SL1.5 extender compared to SL0.5, SL2 and EYT extenders. In addition, SL1, SL1.5 and SL2.5 extenders resulted in significantly lower percentage of early-apoptotic sperm than that in EYT extender. There were no significant differences in different semen extenders for percentage of post-thawed necrotic and late-apoptotic spermatozoa. Also, the results indicated that there are slight differences for percentage of live spermatozoa with active mitochondria between extenders. In conclusion, SL1.5 extender was better than other extenders in most in vitro evaluated sperm parameters.