A review of the genetics of male undermasculinization must encompass a description of the embryology of the genital system. The dimorphism of sex development consequent upon the formation of a testis and the subsequent secretion of hormones to impose a male phenotype is highlighted. Thus, an understanding of the causes of male undermasculinization (manifest as XY sex reversal, complete and partial) includes reviewing the genetic factors which control testis determination and the production and action of testicular hormones. The study of disorders of male sex development has contributed substantially to knowledge of normal male development before birth. This knowledge has been complimented in recent years by the use of targeted murine gene disruption experiments to study the sex phenotype, although murine and human phenotypes are not always concordant. The investigation of disorders associated with male undermasculinization of prenatal onset is described briefly to complete the review.