Although prostate cancer is heterogeneous in its etiology and progression, androgen signaling through the androgen receptor (AR) appears to be involved in all aspects of the disease, from initiation to development of treatment resistance. Lifetime exposure to a constitutively more active AR, encoded by AR alleles as defined by two translated polymorphic microsatellites (CAG and GGC), results in a significant increase in prostate cancer risk. The AR gene is amplified or a target for somatic gain-of-function mutations in metastatic prostate cancer. Gain-of-function AR gene mutations may result in inappropriate activation of the AR, thereby contributing to the failure of conventional androgen-ablation treatments. In cases where no genetically altered receptors are observed, altered signaling through the AR, achieved by cross-talk with other signaling pathways (e.g. kinase-mediated pathways) and/or inappropriate expression of coregulatory proteins, may contribute to disease progression. Thus, the AR-signaling axis contributes to many aspects of prostate cancer, including initiation, progression and resistance to current forms of therapy. This recognition represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in progression of prostate cancer, and provides insight into novel AR-targeted therapies which ultimately may be more effective than current forms of androgen ablation.