The basic plan of gonadal development in both sexes is female unless testes are induced by factor(s) of the Y chromosome, known as testis determining factor(s) (TDF). It is not clearly established whether the Y chromosome control is autonomous or under the control of a gene on the X chromosome or autosomes. A gene for the H-Y antigen (Histocompatibility-Y antigen) has been postulated to be the factor determining testicular differentiation. Recent studies have demonstrated that the gene for testis determination and the H-Y determinant are two separate entities. Although earlier cytogenetic observations localized TDF on the pericentric region of the short arm of the Y chromosome, subsequent findings by high-resolution chromosome banding and molecular analysis localise TDF to the distal part of the short arm of the Y chromosome, adjacent to the pseudoautosomal region. A candidate for TDF, the ZFY, was localised within the 140 kb interval where the position of TDF was defined, and considered as the TDF gene. However, a smaller gene sequence of 35 kb, the SRY, situated outside the 140 kb ZFY region, has recently been isolated and proved to be the only and the smallest part of the Y chromosome necessary for male sex determination.