Components of the testis and cytoplasmic organelles in Leydig cells were quantified with morphometric techniques in hamster, rat, and guinea pig. Testosterone secretory capacity per gram of testis and per Leydig cell in response to luteinizing hormone (LH) (100 ng/ml) stimulation was determined in these three species from testes perfused in vitro. Numerous correlations were measured among structures, and between structures and testosterone secretion, to provide structural evidence of intratesticular control of Leydig cell function. Testosterone secretion per gm testis and per Leydig cell was significantly different in the three species: highest in the guinea pig, intermediate in the rat, and lowest in the hamster. The volume of seminiferous tubules per gm testis was negatively correlated, and the volumes of interstitium. Leydig cell, and lymphatic space per gm testis were positively correlated with testosterone secretion. No correlations were observed between volumes of blood vessels, elongated spindle‐shaped cells, or macrophages per gm testes and testosterone secretion. The average volume of a Leydig cell and the volume and surface area of smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) and peroxisomes per Leydig cell were positively correlated, and the volume of lysosomes and surface area of inner mitochondrial membrane per Leydig cell were negatively correlated with testosterone secretion. No correlations were observed between volume and surface area of rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER), Golgi apparatus, and lipid, and volume of ribosomes, cytoplasmic matrix, and the nucleus with testosterone secretion per Leydig cell. These results suggest that Leydig cell size is more important than number of Leydig cells in explaining the difference in testosterone‐secreting capacity among the three species, and that this increase in average volume of Leydig cell is associated specifically with increased volume and surface are of SER and peroxisomes. An important unresolved question is what is the role of peroxisomes in Leydig cell steroidogenesis.
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