Head shaping in mammalian sperm is regulated by a number of factors including acrosome formation, nuclear condensation and the action of the microtubular manchette. A role has also been suggested for the attendant Sertoli cells and the perinuclear theca (PT). In comparison, relatively little information is available on this topic in birds and the presence of a PT per se has not been described in this vertebrate order. This study revealed that a similar combination of factors contributed to head shaping in the ostrich, emu and rhea, although the Sertoli cells seem to play a limited role in ratites. A fibro-granular structure analogous to the mammalian PT was identified, consisting of sub- and post-acrosomal components. The latter was characterized by stage-specific finger-like projections that appeared to emanate from the cytoplasmic face of the nuclear envelope. They were particularly obvious beneath the base of the acrosome, and closely aligned, but not connected to, the manchette microtubules. During the final stages of chromatin condensation and elongation of the sperm head the projections abruptly disappeared. They appear to play a role in stabilizing the shape of the sperm head during the caudal translocation of the spermatid cytoplasm.