Neonatal L-monosodium glutamate (MSG) administration in rats induces several neuroendocrine and metabolic disruptions. Leptin, the adipocyte product, modulates several neuroendocrine systems including the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis in mammals. The aim of the present study was to determine whether MSG-induced chronic hyperleptinemia could play any relevant role in the hypogonadism developed by male rats when examined in adulthood. We found that 120-day-old MSG male rats displayed significant hyperleptinemia, hypogonadism, and undisturbed basic testis structure and spermatogenesis. In vitro studies in purified Leydig cells from normal (CTR) and MSG-damaged rats revealed that basal and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-stimulated 17-hydroxy-progesterone (17-HO-P<sub>4</sub>), Δ<sub>4</sub>-androstenedione (Δ<sub>4</sub>A) and testosterone (T) secretions were significantly lower in MSG than in CTR cells. Exposure to murine leptin ( mleptin, 10<sup>–8</sup> M) significantly inhibited hCG-elicited T secretion by CTR cells after 180 min incubation. While mleptin significantly inhibited hCG-stimulated Δ<sub>4</sub>A output and the Δ<sub>4</sub>A:17-OH-P<sub>4</sub> ratio of secretion, conversely, it failed to modify the ratio T:Δ<sub>4</sub>A release by CTR Leydig cells. Interestingly, the effects of mleptin found on CTR Leydig cells were absent in MSG Leydig cells. Finally, endogenous hyperleptinemia was associated with a significant decrease in Leydig cell expression of Ob-Rb mRNA in MSG rats. In summary, this study demonstrates that: (1) mleptin inhibited testicular steroidogenesis in CTR rats; (2) MSG-treated rats showed lower in vitro 17-OH-P<sub>4</sub>, Δ<sub>4</sub>A and T production under basal and post-hCG stimulation conditions; (3) purified Leydig cells from MSG-treated rats displayed resistance to the inhibitory action of mleptin on T release, and (4) endogenous leptin exerts a modulatory effect on Leydig cell Ob-Rb mRNA expression. The inhibitory effect of leptin on testicular function is thus abrogated in MSG-damaged rats. The testicular leptin-resistance developed by MSG rats seems to be due to early chronic exposure of Leydig cells to high leptin circulating levels, which in turn down-regulate testicular Ob-Rb expression. It remains to be determined whether the testicular dysfunction of MSG rats can be reversed after correction of hyperleptinemia or whether it is an irreversible effect of the hypothalamic lesion.