Estrogens have been implicated in prostatic cancerogenesis and tumor progression. The mechanisms underlying estrogen signaling in human prostate tissue, however, remain poorly understood. Using immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization (ISH) techniques, the present study demonstrates the classical estrogen receptor (ERalpha) in premalignant lesions and prostatic adenocarcinoma through the various stages of the disease. Conversely, the novel characterized ERbeta subtype was undetectable in human prostate tissue. High-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia revealed ERalpha mRNA and protein expression in 28% and 11% of cases evaluated. Focal ER immunoreactivity was detected in a minority of low- to intermediate-grade adenocarcinoma. High-grade (primary Gleason grade 4 and 5) tumors revealed ER protein expression in 43% (62% respectively) of cases. The most significant ERalpha gene expression on mRNA and protein levels was observed in hormone refractory tumors and metastatic lesions, including lymph node and bone metastases. Results of the current study suggest that estrogens can affect prostatic cancerogenesis and neoplastic progression through an ER-mediated process in human prostate tissue.