In the past few decades, there has been much concern about the adverse health effects of environmental contaminants in general and Crude Oil in particular around the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where all the crude Oil exploration is taking place. Studies have shown the repro-toxic effects of Bonny-light crude oil (BLCO). However, the insight into the mechanisms of gonadal toxicity induced by BLCO is not well known. In this study, we sought to elucidate the mechanism(s) underpinning the gonadal effects within hours of exposure to BLCO. Experimental rats were divided into five groups of four each. Animals were orally administered with a single dose of BLCO (800 mg/kg body weight) and killed at 0, 6, 12, 24, and 72 h post-treatment. The levels and time-course of induction of stress response proteins and apoptosis-related proteins like cytochorome C, caspase 3 and procaspase 9, Fas–FasL, NF-kB and TNF-α were determined to assess sequential induction of apoptosis in the rat testis. DNA damage was assessed by TUNEL assay. Administration of BLCO resulted in a significant increase in the levels of stress response proteins and apoptotis- related proteins as early as 6 h following exposure. Time-dependent elevations in the levels of the proteins were observed. The DNA damage was measured and showed time-dependent increase in the TUNEL positive cells of testicular cells. The study demonstrates induction of testicular apoptosis in adult rats following exposure to a single dose of BLCO. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 30: 242–252, 2015.