Bilateral lesions of the medical preoptic area (MPOA)–anterior hypothalamus of adult male rats markedly disrupt male copulatory behavior. In contrast, more group‐reared then isolated male rats receiving bilateral MPOA lesions as juveniles copulated to ejaculation as adults. The present experiment was designed to analyze the role of rearing condition in promoting copulatory recovery from MPOA lesions in juvenile male rats. Juvenile male rats were given bilateral MPOA lesions or a sham operation and reared in isolation without handling, in isolation with daily handling, across a perforated Plexiglas divider from a male peer, or together with a male peer (social). Socially reared and handled males, but not isolated and divided males, with MPOA lesions showed evidence of copulatory recovery (combined socially reared and handled males vs combined isolated and divided males). These results support previous findings that postweaning rearing condition can affect copulatory recovery following juvenile MPOA lesions, but indicate that play experiences involving physical contact with peers are not necessary for such recovery to occur.