Light microscopy studies of the female American lobster Homarus americanus reproductive system are essentially nonexistent or outdated. Based on samples taken in the spring, summer, and autumn from the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence between 1994 and 2014, and using a combination of histological and scanning electron microscope techniques, we propose an ovarian cycle with 10 stages, identifying for the first time a recovery stage. Also, an atypical resorption stage, characterized by massive reabsorption of mature oocytes, is occasionally observed during summer months. The oviducts are composed of connective tissue (elastic and collagen fibers) with no muscle or secretory activities. Their epithelium shows a cyclic pattern and phagocytosis activities linked to spawning. Although the role of the seminal receptacle is to store and protect semen, free spermatozoa (i.e., without the spermatophoric wall and the acellular gelatinous substance that constitute the semen) were also observed in its posteriolateral grooves immediately prior to spawning, which is consistent with an external fertilization mechanism at the seminal receptacle. Unexpectedly, free spermatozoa were observed externally near two pore-like structures located on the gonopore's operculum, not at the seminal receptacle, after spawning; hence, more work is needed to fully understand the fertilization mechanism for the American lobster. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.