O.J. Simpson tried something new on for size early Sunday morning ... freedom.

Simpson signed his exit papers and was then released from Nevada's Lovelock Correctional Center just after midnight ... minutes after he was eligible to be paroled. The release was stealth, because prison officials wanted to avoid a media crush.

As he walked out, he was told by prison staff, "Don't come back" ... it's a standard issue farewell. The 70-year-old convict replied, "I don't intend to."

A driver was waiting to whisk Simpson away. For now he'll be staying somewhere in Nevada ... he wants to live in Florida but the paperwork hasn't been processed. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is trying to block the move.

Simpson, who served 9 years for a kidnapping conviction, wore standard prison issue on his way out ... blue jeans, a denim jacket and white tennis shoes.