Relaxin-like immunoreactivity was measured in seminal plasma from men who were separated into two groups, on the basis of a previous positive or negative result in a postcoital cervical mucus penetration test. There was no difference in the relaxin concentration between the groups. The effect of exogenous porcine relaxin (0, 10 or 100 ng/ml) on human cervical mucus penetration in vitro by washed human spermatozoa was studied using a capillary tube preparation. In the positive postcoital test group the highest relaxin concentration (100 ng/ml) tended to inhibit cervical mucus penetration, although this effect was only significant for one of the parameters measured (number of spermatozoa penetrating to the 10-mm mark). The same trend was apparent for the negative postcoital test group, but no differences were significant. The results are in direct contrast to previous reports that relaxin can stimulate human spermatozoa motility and cervical mucus penetration. © 1988 IRL Press Limited.