Fine needle aspiration (FNA) of the testis is gaining recognition as an important step in the diagnosis of azoospermia. In 1000 azoospermic men receiving a short-acting anaesthetic, each testis was subject to FNA from three standard sites - lower, middle and upper zones - using 26-gauge needles. Azoospermia was graded in the following way: adequate spermatozoa (A1), low, scanty or rare spermatozoa (A2), spermatid arrest (B1), spermatocyte arrest (B2), Sertoli cell-only pattern (C) and sclerosis (D). The FNA grade showed a strong correlation with cell yield, testicular volume and serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels (all p < 0.0001). Excretory and secretory azoospermia corresponded strongly with FNA grades A1 and A2, respectively. FNA grading was predictive of clinical outcome in terms of sperm yield at testicular sperm extraction, fertilization and pregnancy. In our series, FNA of the testis was relatively free of complications; we recommend its use in the routine diagnosis of azoospermia.