extraordinary advances have been achieved in the field of male infertility in the last decades. there are new concepts in sperm physiology and several modern tools for the assessment of spermatogenesis kinetics in vivo. new tests using molecular biology and dna damage assays allow the clinician to correctly diagnose men so far classified as having idiopathic male infertility. in the field of treatment, microsurgery has increased success rates either for reconstruction of the reproductive tract or the retrieval of spermatozoa for assisted conception. emerging evidence suggests that life-style and environmental conditions are of utmost importance in male fertility and subfertility. this review discusses several concepts that have changed over the last years, such as the duration of the spermatogenic cycle in humans, y-chromosome infertility, the reproductive potential of non-mosaic klinefelter syndrome men, the impact of paternal age and sperm dna in male infertility, the role of antioxidants in the treatment of infertile men, the predictive factors and techniques for sperm retrieval in non-obstructive azoospermia, and the microsurgical treatment of clinical varicoceles. whenever possible, levels of evidence are provided as suggested by the oxford center of evidence-based medicine.