Artificial insemination or impregnation, as some term it, is one of those rare medical entities which cannot be traced back to Hippocrates. Furthermore, no reference exists to it among preliterate peoples.1 In fact, its first human application was made only one hundred and fifty years ago.
According to the legend, the procedure was first evolved by fourteenth century Arabs in the breeding of horses. The legend specifically states that warring tribes stole into the enemy's camp and artificially inseminated well bred mares with the semen of inferior stallions—a practice without application in today's warfare of tanks.2 In 1680 Jan Swammerdam, physician, mystic and natural philosopher of Leyden, reported unsuccessful attempts to fecundate artificially the eggs of fish, an experiment accomplished by Jacobi twenty years later. The success of the abbé Lazarro Spallanzani in first artificially fertilizing an insect, then an amphibian and finally a dog is well known.