Spermatogenesis is a remarkably complex but precise process yielding highly differentiated haploid germ cells from diploid stem cells. Although many factors have been implicated in the paracrine control of spermatogenesis, functional proof is only available for a few regulators. Among those are androgens, growth factors and stem cell factor. Cell- and organ-specific gene-targeting will provide important insights into the relevance of local factors controlling male gametogenesis. As testicular communication frequently occurs between rather remote cells and compartments, it is proposed that the term ‘local’ rather than ‘paracrine’ mediators/factors should be used, since the latter term refers to communication amongst neighbouring cells (and mainly via diffusion).