In this study, the roles of p53 in impaired spermatogenic male germ cells of p53-deficient medaka were investigated by analyzing histological changes, and gene expressions of 42Sp50, Oct 4 and vitellogenin (VTG2) by RT-PCR or in situ hybridization in the testes. We found that a small number of oocyte-like cells (testis-ova) differentiated spontaneously in the cysts of type A and early type B spermatogonia in the p53-deficient testes, in contrast to the wild-type (wt) testes in which testis-ova were never found. Furthermore, ionizing radiation (IR) irradiation increased the number of testis-ova in p53-deficient testes, increased testis-ova size and proceeded up to the zygotene or pachytene stages of premature meiosis within 14 days after irradiation. However, 28 days after irradiation, almost all the testis-ova were eliminated presumably by p53-independent apoptosis, and spermatogenesis was restored completely. In the wt testis, IR never induced testis-ova differentiation. This is the first study to demonstrate the pivotal role of the p53 gene in the elimination of spontaneous testis-ova in testes, and that p53 is not indispensable for the restoration of spermatogenesis in the impaired testes in which cell cycle regulation is disturbed by IR irradiation.