In the present study we report the occurrence of D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) in the ovary of the green frog Rana esculenta and its putative involvement in testosterone production by the gonad. In the ovary, D-Asp concentrations undergo significant variations during the main phases of the sexual cycle. In spawning females (March), its concentration was low (2.5 +/- 1.1 nmol/g ovary) and during the post-reproductive period (June) it increased and reached its peak level (58.0 +/- 10.1 nmol/g) in October. In that month, vitellogenesis occurs in a new set of ovarian follicles and continues until the next spring. The concentrations of D-Asp in the ovary and of testosterone in the ovary and in the plasma were inversely correlated during the reproductive cycle: when endogenous D-Asp was low (March), testosterone was high (36.9 +/- 4.8 ng/g ovary; 23.1 +/- 2.76 ng/ml plasma) and, in contrast, when the D-Asp concentration was high (October), the testosterone concentration was low (0.86 +/- 0.21 ng/g ovary and 5.0 +/- 1.3 ng/ml plasma). In vivo experiments, consisting of injection of D-Asp (2.0 mumol/g body weight) into the dorsal lymphatic sac of adult female frogs, demonstrated that this amino acid accumulates significantly in the ovary. After 3 h, moreover, it caused a decrease in testosterone level in the plasma of about 80%. This inhibition was reversible: within 18 h after the amino acid injection, as the D-Asp concentration in the ovary decreased, the testosterone titre was restored in both ovary and plasma. In vitro experiments, conducted in isolated ovarian follicles, confirmed this phenomenon and identified these gonadal components as the putative D-Asp targets. Other amino acids (L-Asp, D-Glu, L-Glu, D-Ala and L-Ala) used instead of D-Asp were ineffective. These findings indicate that D-Asp is involved in the control of androgen secretion by the ovary in this amphibian species, revealing a more complex system for control of this androgen synthesis than was previously believed to exist.