The technique of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) requires mechanical immobilization of the sperm that are to be injected; damage thus caused to the sperm membrane is considered to be necessary to activate the sperm for fertilization. Mechanical immobilization and the injection procedure are facilitated by introducing the sperm into a viscous medium that will hinder motility: a solution of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) has been used successfully for this purpose. PVP is an artificial polymer, which has been regarded as chemically inert, although adverse effects have been reported as a result of its use both in vivo and in vitro. Therefore, the use of hyaluronate, the natural component of the extracellular matrix of the cumulus-oocyte complex, was investigated as a replacement for PVP during ICSI. A solution of hyaluronate was found to be as effective as PVP in facilitating the injection procedure, its effect on sperm motility was readily reversible, and its use did not affect the outcome of the treatment cycles in terms of fertilization, pregnancy and live birth rates. Every attempt should be made to eliminate artificial factors in assisted reproductive procedures. Hyaluronate, a natural and readily degradable glycosaminoglycan can be used as a substitute for the artificial PVP polymer without jeopardising the outcome of the treatment cycle.