The accurate measurement of the kinetics of binding of 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone to the Sertoli cell specific protein, androgen binding protein (ABP), has been frustrated by the extremely rapid rate of dissociation of the ABP-dihydrotestosterone complex. We describe a rapid and highly sensitive assay suitable for ABP quantitation which utilizes DEAE Bio-Gel and [3H]dihydrotestosterone. The assay has been used to accurately measure the rate of dissociation (8.25 X 10(-4) s-1, t1/2 14 min) and the rate of association (2.04 X 10(5) M s-1) of the binding of [3H]dihydrotestosterone to rat ABP. The ratio of these rate constants is in perfect agreement with the equilibrium dissociation constant determined by Scatchard analysis (4.0 nM). This multipoint assay is extremely rapid such that binding can be measured at equilibrium, it has high precision (coefficient of variation 3%), and is particularly useful at low protein concentrations (50 ng/ml); furthermore, the assay background of nonspecific 3H-binding is extremely low (0.2%). Since at such low protein concentrations a 10 point Scatchard analysis can be performed on 1 ml culture medium containing as little as 3 fmol ABP, the assay is suitable for monitoring changes in ABP secretion resulting from manipulations of cells in culture. The assay which utilizes DEAE Bio-Gel A is compared to five alternative methods: the standard method of steady state gel electrophoresis, Dextran-coated charcoal assay, hydroxylapatite assay, DEAE filter assay, and radioimmunoassay. The DEAE Bio-Gel assay has advantages over all of these alternative methods. In summary, this new assay is particularly useful for monitoring temporal changes in the secretion of ABP, and the method is equally effective in quantitating ABP in rat, rabbit and hamster Sertoli cell cultures.