Targeted disruption of the mouse Ftz-F1 gene, which encodes the orphan nuclear receptors steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) and embryonal long terminal repeat-binding protein (ELP), established that this gene is essential for development of the primary steroidogenic tissues and for male sexual differentiation. Associated with these dramatic developmental abnormalities, all Ftz-F1-disrupted mice died in the immediate postnatal period and had very low glucocorticoid levels. In this report, we show that treatment with corticosteroids markedly prolonged survival of the Ftz-F1-disrupted mice, proving that steroid hormone deficiency causes their death. We also generated SF-1-specific knockout mice with a targeting construct that specifically disrupted the SF-1 coding sequence without impairing the ELP protein. The phenotype of the SF-1-specific knockout mice was indistinguishable from that observed in Ftz-F1-disrupted mice that lack both SF-1 and ELP. Taken together, these results indicate that SF-1 is the Ftz-F1-encoded protein that is required for multiple aspects of endocrine development and for postnatal survival.