To investigate the relationship between HPC2/ELAC2 and prostate cancer risk, we performed the following analyses: (1) a linkage study of six markers in and around the HPC2/ELAC2 gene at 17p11 in 159 pedigrees with hereditary prostate cancer (HPC); (2) a mutation-screening analysis of all coding exons of the gene in 93 probands with HPC; (3) family-based and population-based association study of common HPC2/ELAC2 missense variants in 159 probands with HPC, 249 patients with sporadic prostate cancer, and 222 unaffected male control subjects. No evidence for linkage was found in the total sample, nor in any subset of pedigrees based on characteristics that included age at onset, number of affected members, male-to-male disease transmission, or race. Furthermore, only the two previously reported missense changes (Ser217Leu and Ala541Thr) were identified by mutational analysis of all HPC2/ELAC exons in 93 probands with HPC. In association analyses, family-based tests did not reveal excess transmission of the Leu217 and/or Thr541 alleles to affected offspring, and population-based tests failed to reveal any statistically significant difference in the allele frequencies of the two polymorphisms between patients with prostate cancer and control subjects. The results of this study lead us to reject the three alternative hypotheses of (1) a highly penetrant, major prostate cancer-susceptibility gene at 17p11, (2) the allelic variants Leu217 or Thr541 of HPC2/ELAC2 as high-penetrance mutations, and (3) the variants Leu217 or Thr541 as low-penetrance, risk-modifying alleles. However, we did observe a trend of higher Leu217 homozygous carrier rates in patients than in control subjects. Considering the impact of genetic heterogeneity, phenocopies, and incomplete penetrance on the linkage and association studies of prostate cancer and on the power to detect linkage and association in our study sample, our results cannot rule out the possibility of a highly penetrant prostate cancer gene at this locus that only segregates in a small number of pedigrees. Nor can we rule out a prostate cancer-modifier gene that confers a lower-than-reported risk. Additional larger studies are needed to more fully evaluate the role of this gene in prostate cancer risk.