Induction and branching morphogenesis of the prostate are dependent on androgens, which act via the mesenchyme to induce prostatic epithelial development. One mechanism by which the mesenchyme may regulate the epithelium is through secreted growth factors such as FGF-10. We have examined the male reproductive tract of FGF-10(-/-) mice, and at birth, most of the male secondary sex organs were absent or atrophic, including the prostate, seminal vesicle, bulbourethral gland, and caudal ductus deferens. Rudimentary prostatic buds were occasionally observed in the prostatic anlagen, the urogenital sinus (UGS) of FGF-10(-/-) mice. FGF-10(-/-) testes produced sufficient androgens to induce prostatic development in control UGS organ cultures. Prostatic rudiments from FGF-10(-/-) mice transplanted into intact male hosts grew very little, but showed some signs of prostatic differentiation. In cultures of UGS, the FGF-10 null phenotype was partially reversed by the addition of FGF-10 and testosterone, resulting in the formation of prostatic buds. FGF-10 alone did not stimulate prostatic bud formation in control or FGF-10(-/-) UGS. Thus, FGF-10 appears to act as a growth factor which is required for development of the prostate and several other accessory sex organs.