To increase the quality of cryopreserved sperm in white rhinoceros, the liquid nitrogen vapour (LN vapour) freezing and the multi-thermal gradient directional freezing methods were compared. Sixteen white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum sp.) were electro-ejaculated. Semen samples were diluted with cryoextender (Tris, lactose, egg-yolk, DMSO) and aliquoted into straws for LN vapour freezing, and glass hollow tubes for directional freezing. The sperm quality was evaluated before and after freezing by assessing the following parameters: motility, morphologic state, acrosomal integrity and plasma membrane function and integrity (i.e. sperm viability) as defined by the hypo-osmotic swelling. Directional freezing improved the sperm viability by 5.6% (p<0.005), progressive motility score by 34.7% and sperm motility index (SMI) by 8.1% (p<0.005) versus LN vapour freezing. When data was categorized into groups of low (<19%), moderate (20-39%) and high (>40%) percentages of morphologically normal, directional freezing (DF) resulted in 31.4% less abnormal acrosomes for the low quality group as well as 18.7% increase in intact acrosomes and 10.9% increase in motility for the high quality group compared to LN vapour freezing (LN) (p<0.01, p<0.03, p<0.01, respectively). LN showed a significant reduction in sperm head volume (5.7%, p<0.05) compared to the prefreeze; whereas, no significant reduction in head volume was demonstrated after DF. Several additives (xanthenuric acid, cytochalasin D, potassium, EDTA) to the basic cryoextender provided no significant improvement in spermatozoal survival after directional freezing. In conclusion, directional freezing proved to facilitate higher gamete survival compared to LN vapour freezing. This is especially effective in ejaculates of low sperm quality and is important in endangered species where high quality semen donors are often not accessible. These results suggest that directional freezing could be valuable particularly for species with limited freezability of spermatozoa.