Sertoli cells secrete a factor which has the same bioactivity as ovine testicular lymph inhibin: it selectively suppresses the secretion of FSH by cultured pituitary cells. We investigated the factors that acutely modulate the secretion of this inhibin by cultured Sertoli cells derived from immature rats. The secretion of inhibin was studied on day 7 of culture after a 24 h period of incubation in the presence or absence of steroids, gonadotrophins and foetal bovine serum, added alone or in various combinations. It could be demonstrated that aromatisable as well as non-aromatisable natural and synthetic androgens promote the secretion of inhibin in a dose-dependent way. FSH and pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin--at concentrations that clearly stimulate Sertoli cell aromatase activity--did not affect basal or androgen-stimulated production of inhibin. hCG was equally uneffective. The effect of androgens was not modified by the addition of an aromatase inhibitor but it was neutralized by the antiandrogen cyproterone acetate. Oestradiol-17 beta did not influence the secretion of inhibin whereas progesterone decreased it. Serum enhanced basal as well as androgen stimulated secretion of inhibin. It is concluded that androgens are the major factor which acutely stimulates the production of Sertoli cell inhibin.