RNA-binding proteins that bind to the 3' untranslated region of mRNAs play important roles in regulating gene expression. Here we examine the association between the 70 kDa poly (A) binding protein (PABP) and stored (RNP) and polysomal mRNAs during mammalian male germ cell development. PABP mRNA levels increase as germ cells enter meiosis, reaching a maximum in the early postmeiotic stages, and decreasing to a nearly nondetectable level towards the end of spermatogenesis. Most of the PABP mRNA is found in the nonpolysomal fractions of postmitochondrial extracts, suggesting that PABP mRNA is either inefficiently translated or stored as RNPs during spermatogenesis. Virtually all of the testicular PABP is bound to either polysomal or nonpolysomal mRNAs, with little, if any, free PABP detectable. Analysis of several specific mRNAs reveals PABP is bound to both stored (RNP) and translated forms of the mRNAs. Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry indicate PABP is widespread in the mammalian testis, with maximal amounts detected in postmeiotic round spermatids. The presence of PABP in elongating spermatids, a cell type in which PABP mRNA is nearly absent, suggests that PABP is a stable protein in the later stages of male germ cell development. The high level of testicular PABP in round spermatids and in mRNPs suggests a role for PABP in the storage as well as in the subsequent translation of developmentally regulated mRNAs in the mammalian testis.