Dual parameter flow cytometry was used to investigate cellular changes in male germinal tissue during normal postpartum maturation in B6C3F1/J mice. Animals were killed at 2-day intervals from 2 to 42 days postpartum and at 48, 64, 72, 93 and 100 days postpartum. Testicular, cauda epididymis and vas deferens cell suspensions were stained with the metachromatic fluorochrome acridine orange and measured by flow cytometry for red and green fluorescence levels after excitation by blue laser light. Intensities of red and green fluorescence reflect amounts of single- and double-strand nucleic acid sites available for acridine orange staining, respectively, and were used to classify cells on the basis of ploidy level, RNA content, and chromatin structure, as defined by susceptibility to acid denaturation of DNA in situ. Sperm from cauda epididymis and vas deferens were examined by light microscopy to determine frequency of abnormal sperm head morphology. Fluorescence data derived from acridine orange-stained testicular cells quantified the sequential changes in 1) proportions of haploid, diploid and tetraploid cell types during the first round of spermatogenesis, and 2) proportions of round, elongating, and elongated spermatids during the first round of spermiogenesis. Ratios of the three major testicular populations (haploid, diploid, and tetraploid) reached adult levels by 48 days postpartum. Sperm cells were first detected in the cauda epididymis and vas deferens on 30 and 36 days postpartum, respectively. Early sperm populations, compared to adult sperm, exhibited up to 89% abnormalities in sperm head morphology that correlated with significant levels of abnormal chromatin structure. Percentage of sperm head abnormalities and chromatin structure in the cauda epididymis and vas deferens approached normal adult levels by 42 and 48 days postpartum, respectively.