Structural changes in the androgen receptor (AR) are one of the causes of defective spermatogenesis. We screened the AR gene of 173 infertile men with impaired spermatogenesis and identified 3 of them, unrelated, who each had a single adenine→guanine transition that changed codon 886 in exon 8 from methionine to valine. This mutation was significantly associated with the severely oligospermic phenotype and was not detected in 400 control AR alleles. Despite the location of this substitution in the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the AR, neither the genital skin fibroblasts of the subjects nor transfected cell types expressing the mutant receptor had any androgen-binding abnormality. However, the mutant receptor had a consistently (approximately 50%) reduced capacity to transactivate each of 2 different androgen-inducible reporter genes in 3 different cell lines. Deficient transactivation correlated with reduced binding of mutant AR complexes to androgen response elements. Coexpression of AR domain fragments in mammalian and yeast two-hybrid studies suggests that the mutation disrupts interactions of the LBD with another LBD, with the NH2-terminal transactivation domain, and with the transcriptional intermediary factor TIF2. These data suggest that a functional element centered around M886 has a role, not for ligand binding, but for interdomain and coactivator interactions culminating in the formation of a normal transcription complex.