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To determine if the testes of normal adolescents can produce nitric oxide (NO), by assessing NO synthase (NOS) activity, and whether this activity changes in adolescents with left idiopathic varicocele.After obtaining informed consent, testicular biopsies were obtained from eight adolescents (mean age 16.4 years; controls) who underwent surgery for inguinal hernia or hydrocele, and from 20 adolescents (mean age 16.2 years) operated for left idiopathic varicocele. Inducible and endothelial NOS (iNOS and eNOS) isoforms were investigated in the biopsy specimens by immunohistochemical localization and Western blot analysis using specific fluorescein-conjugated antibodies.Both normal and pathological samples expressed eNOS at the level of vessels and Leydig cells. The iNOS was expressed in Leydig cells of normal testes and over-expressed in Leydig cells of varicocele testes.Leydig cells of adolescent testes constitutively express iNOS. Under pathological conditions, e.g. varicocele, iNOS is up-regulated and is a possible source of NO overproduction. These results could be useful in explaining the pathogenesis of both testis and sperm dysfunction in varicocele.