A balanced polymorphism in male mating behaviour exists in male ruffs, with no obvious parallel expression in females. Pedigree data of male phenotypes support an autosomal model of inheritance, in contrast to sex-linked inheritance patterns found in other taxa with sex-limited alternative mating strategy polymorphisms. We tested this model by inducing male courtship behaviour in gonad-intact female ruffs, using subcutaneous testosterone implants that produced physiological concentrations of testosterone. The implants rapidly induced in females both types of male mating behaviour, an increase in body mass typical of pre-breeding males, and the growth of normally male-limited breeding plumage. As predicted under an autosomal model, the distributions of induced male behaviour types in females paralleled those of their brothers and half-brothers, and were inconsistent with sex-linked models. Effects were reversible, and experimental females bred normally in subsequent years. Our results show that genotype-specific male characteristics can be induced by testosterone in female adults that have presumably not undergone neural organization for them early in life, showing direct use of genetic information in intra- and intersexual differentiation.