The present study examined the occurrence of apoptotic cell death in the testis of wild-type mice from postnatal days 3 to 26 and in juvenile Hsp 70-2 knockout mice. Adult Hsp 70-2 knockout males are infertile and lack spermatids and spermatozoa (Dix et al. [1996a] Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93:3264-3268). To identify the cell types undergoing apoptosis, we also examined the relationship between the occurrence of apoptotic cell death and the expression pattern of the Hsp 70-2 gene product (heat-shock protein 70-2 [HSP70-2]; marker for spermatocytes and spermatids), germ cell nuclear antigen 1 (GCNA1;marker for spermatogonia and spermatocytes), and vimentin (marker for Sertoli cells). This study shows that during postnatal development of the wildtype mouse testis (1) the percentage of apoptotic cell death detected by the TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) method is higher in mice from days 8 to 22 than in younger or older mice, (2) the majority of apoptotic cells are spermatogonia and less frequently are spermatocytes, and (3) the degenerative cell death of spermatogonia and primary spermatocytes involves apoptosis with fragmentation of DNA. The analysis of apoptotic cell death in the testes of juvenile Hsp 70-2 knockout mice showed an additional increased level of apoptosis at day 17, during the first wave of spermatogenesis, in pachytene spermatocytes.