To evaluate the pituitary-gonadal axis of obese men, we compared the 24-hour mean plasma concentrations of total and free testosterone and of dihydrotestosterone, FSH, and LH in 21 healthy obese men, aged 18-50, and 24 age-matched healthy nonobese men. In the obese men, we also measured the volume of ejaculate and the number and motility of sperm, and investigated libido by psychiatric interview, and potency by history and by measurement of nocturnal penile tumescence. As a group, the obese men had less than two-thirds the normal mean plasma levels of total testosterone, free testosterone, and FSH; the difference from normal was highly significant for all three. 24 hr LH levels were normal, which is inappropriately low in view of the subnormal testosterone levels. 24 hr mean levels of dihydrotestosterone and spermatogenesis, libido, and potency were essentially normal. Taken together, the findings represent a state of mild hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, which thus appears to be characteristic of obese men. This abnormality probably results from partial suppression of the pituitary by the elevated plasma estrogen levels we and others find in these men.