A number of variables were investigated in 46 men who had stopped taking gossypol for their predictive association with the degree and time of recovery of spermatogenesis. Thirty-nine (87%) of the men were azoospermic at cessation of gossypol treatment. In those with sperm present the geometric mean concentration and total sperm count were 8.3 X 10(6)/ml and 30.7 X 10(6), respectively. Twenty-eight men (61%) recovered to a defined threshold of spermatogenic function (sperm concentration greater than or equal to 20 X 10(6)/ml), with a median recovery time of 1.1 years. However, 18 men (39%) had not recovered to this degree of spermatogenic function after a median follow-up of 1.9 years and, of these, 10 (22%) remained azoospermic. The influence of individual baseline variables on the time to defined recovery was examined using Kaplan-Meier curves for groups and their joint effect by Cox's regression model. The failure of recovery was strongly associated with longer treatment, greater total dose of gossypol, smaller testicular volume, elevated FSH concentrations and, to a lesser extent, with greater body weight.