NZB/NZW F1 mice of both sexes were castrated at 2 wk of age and implanted subcutaneously with silastic tubes containing either 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone or estradiol-17-beta. Mice receiving androgen showed improved survival, reduced anti-nucleic acid antibodies, or less evidence of glomerulonephritis as determined by light, immunofluorescent, and electron microscopy. By contrast, opposite effects were observed in castrated mice receiving estrogen. Intact male NZB/NZW F1 mice received androgen implants at 8 mo, an age when they develop an accelerated autoimmune disease associated with a decline in serum testosterone concentration. Such treated mice had improved survival and reduced concentrations of antibodies to DNA and to polyadenylic acid (Poly A). Prepubertal castration of male NZB/NZW F1 mice results in an earlier appearance of IgG antibodies to Poly A. This effect of castration was prevented if neonatal thymectomy was also performed.