We have examined the secretion and binding of transferrin to rat testicular cells. The only testicular cells found to secrete transferrin were the Sertoli cells (control 549 +/- 6; FSH 1020 +/- 17 ng/day X 10(6) cells, mean +/- SEM). The Sertoli cells also contained specific binding sites for transferrin with a Kd of 2.0 X 10(-9)M. Of the other testicular cells examined only fractions rich in pachytene spermatocytes possessed specific transferrin-binding sites. Late pachytene spermatocytes (97% pure) bound [125I]iodotransferrin with a similar affinity as Sertoli cells (Kd 1.7 X 10(-9)M). Fractions of early and mid pachytene spermatocytes contained transferrin-binding sites with a higher affinity (Kd 0.3 X 10(-9)M). This is the first report of a protein that has specific binding sites on germ cells.