Treatment of human prostate carcinoma-derived LNCaP cells with androgen or oestradiol triggers simultaneous association of androgen receptor and oestradiol receptor beta with Src, activates the Src/Raf-1/Erk-2 pathway and stimulates cell proliferation. Surprisingly, either androgen or oestradiol action on each of these steps is inhibited by both anti-androgens and anti-oestrogens. Similar findings for oestradiol receptor alpha were observed in MCF-7 or T47D cells stimulated by either oestradiol or androgens. Microinjection of LNCaP, MCF-7 and T47D cells with SrcK(-) abolishes steroid-stimulated S-phase entry. Data from transfected Cos cells confirm and extend the findings from these cells. Hormone-stimulated Src interaction with the androgen receptor and oestradiol receptor alpha or beta is detected using glutathione S:-transferase fusion constructs. Src SH2 interacts with phosphotyrosine 537 of oestradiol receptor alpha and the Src SH3 domain with a proline-rich stretch of the androgen receptor. The role of this phosphotyrosine is stressed by its requirement for association of oestradiol receptor alpha with Src and consequent activation of Src in intact Cos cells.