The characteristics of the steroidogenic response of reaggregated rat interstitial cells were examined in a perifusion system. Interstitial cells were isolated from 19-day-old rat testes by digestion with collagenase. The cells were cultured for 3 days as monolayers and were resuspended by brief treatment with trypsin. Constant gyratory shaking of the dispersed cells resulted in the formation of round and compact aggregates of 70-140 microns. The functional characteristics of these aggregates were examined by studying the output of cAMP, C19 steroids (testosterone and androstenedione), and C21 steroids (progesterone, 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone, 20 alpha-hydroxypregn-4-en-3-one) in a perfusion system. It is demonstrated that reaggregated interstitial cells maintain their responsiveness to LH, LHRH, and Leydig cell stimulatory factor(s) produced by Sertoli cells for at least 12 days. When exposed to low concentrations of LH (1 ng/ml), either in a continuous or in a pulsatile fashion, perifused aggregates maintain a constant output of steroids for more than 20 h. Under these conditions, LH-dependent differentiation of the steroidogenic machinery can be observed in vitro. In fact, although the sum of the measured steroids remains constant, C21 steroids progressively decrease whereas C19 steroid output increases during perifusion. When perifused with high concentrations of LH (10 ng/ml), desensitization becomes the predominant phenomenon. It is demonstrated that the steroid output of reaggregated interstitial cells considerably exceeds that of similarly treated cells maintained as monolayers. Moreover, perifusion of aggregates results in a 6-fold increase in steroid output as compared to static incubation and in a selective increase in androgen output. It is concluded that prepubertal interstitial cells allowed to reaggregate in suspension culture form functional multicellular structures. Perifusion of these aggregates is a useful tool in the study of the dynamics of the regulation of steroidogenesis.