The influence of FSH and androgens on androgen receptor levels in primary Sertoli cell cultures from immature rats is studied in a monolayer binding assay and by sucrose density gradient centrifugation using the synthetic radiolabeled androgen mibolerone (7 alpha, 17 alpha-dimethyl-19-nortestosterone) as a ligand. Preincubation of Sertoli cells for 4 days with FSH, testosterone, or 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone results into a 2- to 3-fold increase in mibolerone binding, as measured 18 h after removal of the agonists. The combination of androgens and FSH has additive effects. The action of FSH can be mimicked by (Bu)2cAMP, and the activity of the androgens can be blocked by the antiandrogen cyproterone acetate. The mibolerone-binding protein has the ligand specificity, affinity, and sedimentation behavior characteristic for an androgen receptor. Using a DEAE-cellulose filter disc assay and 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone as a ligand, androgen-binding protein (ABP) was measured in the media of the studied Sertoli cell cultures. Despite some similarity in the hormonal control of ABP and the androgen receptor, there are distinct differences in the ligand specificity of the two androgen binding proteins, which exclude that ABP might interfere with the receptor measurements. The effects of androgens and FSH on the androgen receptor are evident at concentrations equal to or lower than those required to provoke a measurable increase in ABP secretion. It is concluded that FSH and androgens control androgen receptor levels in Sertoli cells.