Epidemiological data indicate a relationship between ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D, and prostate cancer risk. Antiproliferative effects of vitamin D require the expression of the nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR). A three-fold increase in prostate cancer risk associated with the less active vitamin D receptor allele (the T allele from VDR TaqI polymorphism at codon 352) was reported. The role of VDR genotypes in the susceptibility to prostate cancer has not yet been studied in populations of southern Europe. In the present study, we determined VDR TaqI genotypes in Portuguese prostate cancer cases ( n = 163) and controls ( n = 211), a southern European population. When cases were compared with controls, we found an association of VDR T allele with prostate cancer risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-3.37; P = 0.035). This association was confirmed using logistic regression analysis (OR = 2.11, 95% CI 1.15-3.88; P = 0.015) and in particular associated to risk of prostate cancer onset in men over the age of 66 years (OR = 2.36, 95% CI 1.05-5.29; P = 0.036). Fifty percent of cases older than 66 years could be attributed to the influence of this risk factor. Our results indicate that the contribution of VDR genotypes to prostate cancer susceptibility might depend on the population studied and its geographic localization, and that VDR genotypes are important in the definition of the genetic risk profile of populations of southern Europe.