Study of Sertoli cells of the ground squirrel provides a unique opportunity to examine cell structure and function. The cells are large, have an elaborate cytoskeleton, and undergo dramatic changes in organization during spermatogenesis. Microtubules (MTs) are prominent elements of the cytoskeleton and appear to be associated structurally with many of the events that occur during sperm production. To investigate the function of MTs, animals were injected subcutaneously with colchicine, and their seminiferous epithelia examined by light and electron microscopy. Some animals were injected with 30--80 mg of the drug per kg body weight and sacrificed 3 to 5 hr later. Others were given 0.3 mg/kg/day for 6 days and processed on day 7. Virtually no MTs were seen in Sertoli cells after short-term treatments, and their numbers were greatly reduced after the long-term injections. Intermediate filaments were very evident throughout the cytoplasm of treated cells, particularly in the short-term studies. Moreover, a close association of some of these filaments with centrioles was observed. In all cases, elongate spermatids which normally move apically did not do so. Indeed, some spermatids appear to have been pulled to a basal position after having moved apically prior to treatment. Also, smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) accumulated basally in the Sertoli cell, unlike controls, and the acrosomes of late spermatids developed abnormally or did not complete their shape changes. Cell junctions appeared normal and sperm release was observed. In conclusion, our data suggest that Sertoli cell MTs are necessary for the normal development and translocation of spermatids in the seminiferous epithelium and are involved with positional changes in Sertoli cell SER. They do not appear essential for the maintenance of cell junctions.