The effect of the antiandrogen flutamide on the prostatic vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) receptor/effector system was studied in rats. Rats were s.c. injected with a daily dose of flutamide (15 mg/kg B.W.) or vehicle for 14 days. Drug treatment resulted in histological evidence of gland involution and increased plasma membrane fluidity as estimated by fluorescence spectroscopy. The number of VIP receptors and the stimulatory effect of VIP on adenylate cyclase activity in prostatic membranes decreased in flutamide-treated rats. However, the pattern of forskolin stimulation of the enzyme activity was not modified by this drug. Androgen-receptor blockade by flutamide also decreased the prostatic levels of alpha(s,) alpha(i1/2), and alpha(i3/0) G-protein subunits, as estimated by an immunological procedure. Whereas apoptotic DNA fragmentation was evidenced in prostate from 3-day castrated animals, a heterogeneous electrophoretic pattern was observed after flutamide treatment. Thus, androgen-receptor blockade by flutamide results in an important impairment of the components of the VIP receptor/effector system in rat prostate as well as in a modification of their coupling extent, which is presumably due to differences observed in plasma membrane fluidity. These results represent a crosstalk in the prostate between two mechanisms of signal transduction involved in cell proliferation.