The obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome occurs predominantly in men. To determine the effect of testosterone on ventilatory function and whether testosterone may play a role in the development of obstructive apnoea, we performed waking ventilatory drive studies and sleep studies in five hypogonadal men. These androgen-deficient subjects were studied both while receiving no treatment and after six weeks of testosterone replacement therapy (testosterone oenanthate 200 mg i.m. every 2 weeks). Hypoxic ventilatory drive decreased significantly, from 158 · 39 (mean · SEM) off testosterone to 88 · 19 on testosterone therapy (P < 0.05). Hypercapnoeic ventilatory drive did not change significantly on testosterone. Obstructive sleep apnoea developed in one man and markedly worsened in another man in association with testosterone administration. Both of these subjects also exhibited marked decreases in oxygen saturation with the development of cardiac dysrhythmias during sleep and large increases in haematocrit. The remaining three hypogonadal men did not demonstrate significant sleep apnoea either on or off testosterone. The percentage of sleep time spent in REM sleep increased from 14 · 3% to 22 · 2% when the men were receiving testosterone (P < 0.01), but the episodes of sleep apnoea tended to occur during non-REM sleep. We conclude that in some hypogonadal men, replacement dosages of testosterone may affect ventilatory drives and induce or worsen obstructive sleep apnoea. The obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome is a potential complication of testosterone therapy. These results suggest that androgen levels present in normal man may play an important role in the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnoea.