The circadian rhythms of serum luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone (T), free testosterone (fT), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), oestradiol, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHA-s) have been investigated in 5 normal male adults and 6 elderly men. Circadian rhythms were detected statistically significant (p < 0.05) by population mean cosinor analysis, for T, fT, cortisol and DHA-s in the young group. In the elderly population, serum cortisol showed a clear circadian rhythm, although with some phase modification, whereas DHA-s secretion lost its circadian rhythmicity. This demonstrates that ageing differently affects the two major adrenal functions, glucocorticoid and androgenic; further, the data suggest that an independent adrenal androgen-regulating system could be selectively impaired in the older subjects. In the elderly group the loss of T circadian rhythm was confirmed, but a statistically significant circadian rhythm of fT was recorded. It was characterized by a marked phase advance and not related with the SHBG modifications found in elderly men. This finding leads us to reconsider the role of fT, which appears more sensitive than total T, in studying circadian rhythm of gonadal androgen secretion.