Transferrin represents 1-4% of the total proteins secreted by human Sertoli cells, and the amount secreted by the cells was maximal after a 4- to 5-day period in culture, the time chosen for each medium change. During this first 4- to 5-day period, the addition of FSH, insulin, (Bu)2cAMP, and isobutylmethylxanthine had no effect on transferrin secretion; however, from days 4-5 to 8-10, each of the above compounds significantly stimulated transferrin secretion compared to control values. Testosterone (in the absence or presence of insulin) had no effect. Transferrin secretion increased for the first 5 days in culture, with a similar magnitude in the presence or absence of the above stimulators, and thereafter declined, more so in untreated cultures. These results suggest that these agents do not stimulate, but, rather, limit the decline in transferrin secretion. When human peritubular cells were cocultured with Sertoli cells, transferrin secretion was significantly elevated compared to that by Sertoli cells alone. Interestingly, in the cocultures (Bu)2cAMP stimulated transferrin secretion when added for the first 4- to 5-day culture period. Human fibroblasts or spent medium from the peritubular cell cultures did not mimic the effect found when peritubular and Sertoli cells were cocultured. These results provide evidence that peritubular cells play a critical role in regulating human Sertoli cell function.