Fifty years have passed since the findings of capacitation and acrosome reaction. These discoveries and the extensive effort of researchers led to the success of in vitro fertilization, which has become a top choice for patients at infertility clinics today. The effort to understand the mechanism of fertilization is ongoing, but the small number of eggs and similarly small quantity of spermatozoa continue to hinder biochemical experiments. The emergence of transgenic animals and gene disruption techniques has had a significant effect on fertilization research. Factors considered important in the early years were shown not to be essential and were replaced by newly found proteins. However, there is much about sperm–egg interaction which remains to be learned before we can outline the mechanism of fertilization. In fact, our understanding of sperm–egg interaction is entering a new stage. Progress in transgenic spermatozoa helped us to observe the behavior of spermatozoa in vivo and/or at the moment of sperm–egg fusion. These advancements are discussed together with the paradigm-shifting research in related fields to help us picture the direction which fertilization research may take in the future.
Researches on fertilization in the last 50 years were reviewed to see the future.