Protection of the spermatogenic cells from the host immune response is fundamental to male fertility. Significantly, this protection extends to the tolerance of foreign tissue grafts placed within the testicular environment, a phenomenon that is called immune privilege . This privilege of the testis appears to involve several levels of immune control, encompassing the normal mechanisms of immune tolerance, antigen sequestration behind the blood-testis barrier, reduced immune activation, localised immunosuppression and antigen-specific immunoregulation. Central to these regulatory processes are the somatic cells of the testis, particularly the Sertoli cells, and testicular secretions, including androgens, cytokines, peptides and bioactive lipids. Failure of these protective mechanisms, which may be precipitated by trauma, inflammation or infection, or as the consequence of genetic factors, can lead to androgen deficiency, infertility and autoimmunity.