The androgen receptor (AR) can be activated in the absence of androgens by interleukin-6 (IL-6) in human prostate cancer cells. The events involved in ligand-independent activation of the AR are unknown, but have been suggested to involve phosphorylation of the AR itself or a receptor-associated protein. Steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC-1) has been shown to interact with the human AR and to modulate ligand-dependent AR transactivation and is regulated by phosphorylation by MAPK. To date, no one has examined the role of SRC-1 in ligand-independent activation of the AR by IL-6 or other signaling pathways known to activate the full-length receptor. This study addressed this and has revealed the following. 1) SRC-1 similarly enhanced ligand-independent activation of the AR by IL-6 to the same magnitude as that obtained via ligand-dependent activation. 2) Androgen and IL-6 stimulated the MAPK pathway. 3) MAPK was required for both ligand-dependent and ligand-independent activation of the AR. 4) Phosphorylation of SRC-1 by MAPK was required for optimal ligand-independent activation of the AR by IL-6. 5) Protein-protein interaction between endogenous AR and SRC-1 was dependent upon treatment of LNCaP cells with IL-6 or R1881. 6) Protein-protein interaction between the AR N-terminal domain and SRC-1 was independent of MAPK. 7) Ligand-independent activation of the AR did not occur by a mechanism of overexpression of either solely wild-type SRC-1 or mutant SRC-1 that mimics its phosphorylated form.