Dilute boar seminal plasma (SP) has been shown to inhibit in vitro capacitation and cooling-induced capacitation-like changes in boar spermatozoa, as assessed by the ability of the spermatozoa to undergo an ionophore-induced acrosome reaction. We hypothesised that the protein component of SP is responsible for this effect. To test this hypothesis, varying concentrations of total SP protein or SP proteins fractionated by heparin binding were assayed for their ability to inhibit in vitro capacitation, as well as cooling- and cryopreservation-induced capacitation-like changes. In vitro capacitation and cooling-induced capacitation-like changes were prevented by 10% whole SP, as well as by total proteins extracted from SP at concentrations greater than 500 microg mL(-1). No amount of SP protein was able to prevent cryopreservation-induced capacitation-like changes. Total SP proteins were fractionated based on their heparin-binding properties and the heparin-binding fraction was shown to possess capacitation inhibitory activity at concentrations as low as 250 microg mL(-1). The proteins in the heparin-binding fraction were subjected to mass spectrometry and identified. The predominant proteins were three members of the spermadhesin families, namely AQN-3, AQN-1 and AWN, and SP protein pB1. We conclude that one or more of these heparin-binding SP proteins is able to inhibit in vitro capacitation and cooling-induced capacitation-like changes, but not cryopreservation-induced capacitation-like changes, in boar spermatozoa.