Prostate specific antigen (PSA) has become a mainstay in the diagnosis and management of patients with prostate cancer. We have found, as have others, that it may be elevated in patients with prostatic inflammation. Ten patients had clinical evidence of prostatitis and elevated PSA levels. Six of these had persistently elevated levels after antibiotic treatment. After transrectal ultrasonography and biopsy, two had findings of adenocarcinoma, and the rest had a pathologic diagnosis of acute or chronic prostatitis. We studied this process in an experimental model of prostatitis using a nonhuman primate. We infected six cynomolgus monkeys and followed their PSA levels until resolution of the infection. The PSA peaked between 5 and 7 days after inoculation and gradually returned to baseline in 8 weeks. The dramatically elevated serum PSA levels in bacterial prostatitis can cause confusion in the diagnosis of prostatic carcinoma.