It has long been known that primate species differ greatly in the weight of their testes relative to body weight1. Recently it has been suggested that among the three species of Pongidae (the great apes), the disparity in testes weights is associated with their different breeding systems2-4. Male gorillas and orangutans copulate infrequently, and when a female comes into oestrus she normally mates with only one male. However, in the chimpanzee, several males mate frequently with the oestrous females, so that each male has to deposit enough sperm to compete with the presence of sperm from other males. For the chimpanzee, therefore, we hypothesize that selection will favour the male that can deposit the largest number of sperm; thus the volume of spermatogenic tissue and hence testis size is far greater in the chimpanzee than in the gorilla or orangutan. If this is correct, it implies that primates in which more than one male mates with each oestrous female should have larger testes relative to their body weight than those with single-male breeding systems. We have tested this prediction across a wide range of primates, and the results support the hypothesis. The relative size of testes may, therefore, provide a valuable clue to the breeding system of a primate species.