Rat sperm surface antigen Sperm Adhesion Molecule1, SPAM1 (a.k.a. 2B1 or PH-20) is a plasma membrane-bound glycoprotein with hyaluronidase activity and putative roles during fertilization. Previously the antigen was thought to be testis-specific but recently it has been shown to be synthesized in the epididymis (mouse, macaque and human). Using the efferent ductule ligated (EDL) rat as a model to produce a sperm-free androgen-maintained epididymis, we have examined the factors regulating the expression of epididymal 2B1. RT-PCR and in situ transcript hybridization (ISH) studies showed that 2B1 mRNA is transcribed in the principal cells in all three regions of the epididymis. Its cognate protein was also detected by Western blot analysis in sperm-free cytosols from normal epididymis and found to undergo endoproteolytic cleavage into 2 subunits of similar size to the sperm-bound form. Immunohistochemistry with a monoclonal antibody to 2B1 confirmed that the protein is present in the epididymal epithelium and luminal secretions. The intensity of staining was much stronger in the sperm-free EDL epididymis than that in the normal (sperm-present) epididymis. The protein was shown to have hyaluronidase activity at neutral pH and both its quantity and activity appeared to be greater in the EDL epididymis. It is suggested that a soluble form of SPAM1 glycoprotein is synthesized and released in the epididymis and that in addition to androgens, its regulation may involve a cross-talk between the tubule epithelium and lumicrine factors, the latter possibly of testicular origin.