The aim of this study was to obtain insight into the role of the multidrug resistance (MDR) phenomenon in hormone-independent progressive prostate cancer. Using immunocytochemistry and Western blotting we determined the expression of P-glycoprotein (Pgp), multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP), glutathione-S-transferase-pi (GST-pi), Bcl-2, Bax, topoisomerase (Topo) I, II alpha and II beta in the human prostate cancer cell lines PC3, TSU-Pr1, DU145 and LNCaP derivatives LNCaP-R, LNCaP-LNO and LNCaP-FGC. Proliferative activity was assessed by immunocytochemistry. MTT assays were used to determine the sensitivity to etoposide, doxorubicin and vinblastin. Pgp was not expressed in any of the cell lines. MRP was variably expressed. GST-pi was expressed in TSU-Pr1, PC3 and DU145. The expression of Bcl-2 was restricted to TSU-Pr1, whereas Bax was found in all cell lines. Topo II alpha was expressed at the highest level in the rapidly proliferating cell lines TSU-Pr1 and DU145. Topo I and II beta were equally expressed. Resistance profiles varied among the cell lines, with TSU-Pr1 being the most sensitive and LNCaP-LNO relatively resistant. Multiple MDR proteins were expressed in prostate cancer cell lines and may well influence response to chemotherapy. Future functional studies, using chemo-selected MDR models, may further help to determine the mechanism or combination of mechanisms underlying the resistance of prostate cancer to chemotherapy.