Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy among men between 14 and 44 years of age, and its incidence has risen over the past two decades in Western countries. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of testicular cancer, for which cryptorchidism is the most common risk factor. Progress has been made in our understanding of the disease since the initial description of carcinoma in situ of the testis in 1972 (now referred to as germ cell neoplasia in situ), which has led to improved treatment options. The combination of surgery and cisplatin-based chemotherapy has resulted in a cure rate of >90% in patients with testicular cancer, although some patients become refractory to chemotherapy or have a late relapse; an improved understanding of the molecular determinants underlying tumour sensitivity and resistance may lead to the development of novel therapies for these patients. This Primer provides an overview of the biology, epidemiology, diagnosis and current treatment guidelines for testicular cancer, with a focus on germ cell tumours. We also outline areas for future research and what to expect in the next decade for testicular cancer.