D-Aspartic acid (D-Asp) is an endogenous amino acid which occurs in many marine and terrestrial animals. In fetal and young rats, this amino acid occurs prevalently in nervous tissue, whereas at sexual maturity it occurs in endocrine glands and above all in pituitary and testes. Here, we have studied if a relationship exists between the presence of D-Asp and the hormonal activity. The following results were obtained: 1) Both D-Asp and testosterone are synthesized in rat testes in two periods of the animal's life: before birth, about the 17th day after fertilization and, after birth, at sexual maturity. 2) Immunocytochemical studies have demonstrated that this enantiomer is localized in Leydig and Sertoli cells. 3) In vivo experiments, consisting of i.p. injection of D-Asp to adult male rats, demonstrated that this amino acid accumulates in pituitary and testis (after 5 h, the accumulation was of 12 and 4-fold over basal values, respectively); simultaneously, luteinizing hormone, testosterone and progesterone significantly increased in the blood (1.6-fold, p < 0.05; 3.0-fold, p < 0.01 and 2.9-fold, p < 0.01, respectively). 4) Finally, in vitro experiments, consisting of the incubation of D-Asp with isolated testes also demonstrated that this amino acid induces the synthesis of testosterone. These results suggest that free D-Asp is involved in the steroidogenesis.