The role of the C24 sulphate in the mating pheromone component, 7α,12α,24-trihydroxy-5α-cholan-3-one 24-sulphate (3kPZS), to specifically induce upstream movement in ovulated female sea lampreys Petromyzon marinus was investigated. 7α,12α-dihydroxy-5α-cholan-3-one 24-oic acid (3kACA), a structurally similar bile acid released by spermiated males, but lacking the C24 sulphate ester, was tested in bioassays at concentrations between 10−11 and 10−14 molar (M). 3kACA did not induce upstream movement in females or additional reproductive behaviours. In contrast, spermiated male washings induced upstream movement, prolonged retention on a nest and induced an array of nesting behaviours. Differential extraction and elution by solid-phase extraction resins showed that components other than 3kPZS + 3kACA are necessary to retain females on nests and induce nest cleaning behaviours. All pheromone components, including components in addition to 3kPZS + 3kACA that retain females and induce nest cleaning behaviours were released from the anterior region of the males, as had been reported for 3kPZS. It is concluded that the sea lamprey male mating pheromone has multiple functions and is composed of multiple components.