The production of 11-ketotestosterone (11KT), an important steroid hormone in piscine spermatogenesis, is regulated by the pituitary gonadotropins [Gths: follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) and luteinizing hormone (Lh)] and it is synthesized by catalytic reactions involving several steroidogenic enzymes. Among these enzymes, the role of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (Hsd17bs) that exhibited 17-ketosteroid reducing activity (17KSR activity) responsible for 11KT synthesis is still poorly understood. In the present study, for the deeper understanding of testicular 11KT biosynthesis, we first investigated the steroidogenic pathway to produce 11KT in Japanese eel testis. In vitro incubation of the testis with androstenedione (A4) and the subsequent analysis of the metabolites by thin-layer chromatography indicated that 11KT was synthesized from A4 via 11β-hydroxyandrostenedione (11OHA4) and 11-ketoandrostenedione (11KA4), which indicated that the steroidogenic enzyme exhibiting the 17KSR activity responsible for converting 11KA4 to 11KT is crucial for 11KT production. Subsequently, cDNAs encoding three candidate enzymes, Hsd17b type3 (Hsd17b3), Hsd17b type12a (Hsd17b12a), and 20β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type2 (Hsd20b2), potentially with the 17KSR activity were isolated and characterized in the Japanese eel. The isolated hsd17b3, hsd17b12a, and hsd20b2 cDNAs putatively encoded 308, 314, and 327 amino acid residues with high homology to those of other vertebrate counterparts, respectively. The Hsd17b3, Hsd17b12a, and Hsd20b2 expressed either in HEK293T or in Hepa-E1 converted 11KA4 to 11KT. Tissue-distribution analysis by quantitative real time PCR revealed that hsd17b12a and hsd20b2 mRNAs were detected in the testis, while hsd17b3 mRNA was not detectable. Furthermore, we examined the effects of Gths on the 17KSR activity and the expression of the candidate genes in the immature testis. The 17KSR activity was upregulated by administration of Gths. Furthermore, only expression of hsd17b12a among three candidates was upregulated by Gths as well as the 17KSR activity. These findings strongly suggested that Hsd17b12a is one of the enzymes with 17KSR activity responsible for 11KT synthesis in the testis of Japanese eel.