Molecular chaperones mediate multiple aspects of steroid receptor function, but the physiological importance of most receptor-associated cochaperones has not been determined. To help fill this gap, we targeted for disruption the mouse gene for the 52-kDa FK506 binding protein, FKBP52, a 90-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp90)-binding immunophilin found in steroid receptor complexes. A mouse line lacking FKBP52 (52KO) was generated and characterized. Male 52KO mice have several defects in reproductive tissues consistent with androgen insensitivity; among these defects are ambiguous external genitalia and dysgenic prostate. FKBP52 and androgen receptor (AR) are coexpressed in prostate epithelial cells of wild-type mice. However, FKBP52 and AR are similarly coexpressed in testis even though testis morphology and spermatogenesis in 52KO males are usually normal. Molecular studies confirm that FKBP52 is a component of AR complexes, and cellular studies in yeast and human cell models demonstrate that FKBP52 can enhance AR-mediated transactivation. AR enhancement requires FKBP52 peptidylprolyl isomerase activity as well as Hsp90-binding ability, and enhancement probably relates to an affect of FKBP52 on AR-folding pathways. In the presence of FKBP52, but not other cochaperones, the function of a minimally active AR point mutant can be dramatically restored. We conclude that FKBP52 is an AR folding factor that has critically important physiological roles in some male reproductive tissues.