Human adrenal glands produce considerable amounts of the C-19 steroids dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione. To investigate the capability of rodent adrenals to produce these steroids, cell suspensions of mouse and rat adrenal glands were incubated in the absence and presence of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Corticosterone levels in the incubation medium increased dramatically in the presence of ACTH, but no significant amounts of 17-hydroxyprogesterone or androstenedione could be detected. This indicates that the adrenals of rat and mouse lack the enzyme 17 alpha-hydroxylase. Absence of plasma cortisol in the presence of high levels of corticosterone confirmed these data. Plasma levels of androstenedione were significantly decreased in castrated male rats as compared to levels observed in intact males, showing the contribution of the testes to the plasma content of androstenedione. Very low levels of androstenedione were observed in female, male and castrated male mice. Plasma concentrations of DHEA were not detectable in intact and castrated male mice and rats. It is concluded that rat and mouse lack the enzyme necessary to synthesize adrenal C-19 steroids and that the adrenals in these animals, therefore, do not contribute to plasma levels of androstenedione and DHEA.