We investigated the effects of 4-6-wk administration of testosterone on calcium and protein metabolism in six healthy prepubertal short boys (mean age +/- SE = 12.9 +/- 0.6 yr). At baseline, subjects received a 4-h infusion of L-[1-13C]leucine and L-[2-15N]glutamine, and were given 42Ca intravenously, and 44Ca PO. Testosterone enanthate (approximately 3 mg/kg) was given I.M. 2 wk apart (two doses n = 5, three doses n = 1), and the study was repeated 4-5 d after the last injection. After testosterone therapy, there were significant increases in serum testosterone and mean peak and total growth hormone concentrations. Net calcium absorption (Va) and retention (Vbal) also increased (Va 13.3 +/- 2.3 vs 21.5 +/- 2.3; mg.kg-1.d-1, Vbal 8.0 +/- 2.1 vs 16.6 +/- 2.5, mg.kg-1.d-1, P < .05 both), as well as Ca's net forward flow into bone and total exchangeable pool (16 and 20%, respectively). The rate of appearance of leucine (an indicator of proteolysis) increased by 17.6 +/- 5.9%, P = 0.036. Leucine oxidation decreased by 48.6 +/- 8.0%, P = 0.004; thus, nonoxidative leucine disappearance, which estimates protein synthesis, increased significantly by 34.4 +/- 7.7%, P = 0.009. Glutamine's rate of appearance also increased (+32%), mostly through enhanced glutamine de novo synthesis (+42%). In conclusion, short term testosterone administration significantly increases calcium's retention and net forward flow into bone in prepubertal humans, as well as whole body estimates of protein and calcium anabolism. These effects may represent a pure androgen effect, an amplification of growth hormone's action or some combination of these factors.