Acute testicular torsion is a surgical emergency which requires immediate intervention. Although damage to the gonad has been well documented, it remains unknown whether the majority of injury occurs during the period of torsion (ischemia) or following detorsion (reperfusion). The aims of this study were to determine: (1) whether damage following testicular torsion-detorsion has a reperfusion component similar to that described in other tissues, and (2) whether iron-catalyzed oxygen radical formation or altered calcium homeostasis plays a role in this injury. To study this, anesthetized prepubertal rats underwent 720° intravaginal testicular torsion and were divided into groups of torsion only (ischemia) and torsion with reperfusion (ischemia/reperfusion). Reperfusion groups were treated prior to detorsion with either deferoxamine (iron chelator), diltiazem (calcium channel blocker), or saline vehicle. The results indicated that detorsion produces a qualitatively distinct reperfusion injury from that of non-reperfused testicles; however, such damage was not ameliorated by deferoxamine or dilitiazem. Thus, testicular torsion-detorsion appears to have a significant reperfusion component that appears to not be mediated by iron-catalyzed oxygen radical formation or calcium injury. © 1993 Springer-Verlag.