The use of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on decondensed sperm heads has allowed to analyse the chromosome constitution of spermatozoa in different populations. In controls, the mean incidence of disomy (including all chromosomes) is about 6.7 per cent; diploidy increases with age, and some individuals may show a special tendency to nondisjunction. Carriers of numerical sex chromosome anomalies show a low incidence of sex chromosome disomies (2.54-7.69 per cent), and the need to screen ICSI candidates for these conditions has to be reconsidered. Carriers of inversions produce from 0 to 54.3 per cent abnormal sperm. Carriers of Robertsonian translocations produce from 3.4 to 36.0 per cent abnormal sperm, and carriers of reciprocal translocations produce from 47.5 to 81.0 per cent abnormal spermatozoa. However, carriers of translocations usually produce more abnormal embryos than expected from these figures. This may be partly related to interchromosomal effects induced by some structural reorganizations. Males with oligoasthenozoospermia, low motility and/or high FSH concentrations show frequent synaptic anomalies, resulting in the production of aneuploid and diploid sperm. Testicular sperm show extremely high rates of chromosomal abnormalities. The risk of recurrent abortion is increased by the presence of chromosome abnormalities in sperm. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.