Erythropoietin is a hematopoietic cytokine that regulates the production of red blood cells. Erythropoietin is normally produced in the adult kidney in a hypoxia-inducible manner. The recombinant form of human erythropoietin is in clinical use for the prevention and treatment of anemia that is associated with cancer and its treatment with chemoradiation therapy. A series of recent studies from our laboratory and others have reported the expression of receptors for erythropoietin in several different types of human cancer cells. In the present study, we investigated the expression of erythropoietin receptor and its ligand erythropoietin in human prostate cancer. In clinical specimens of prostate cancer, we found abundant expression of erythropoietin receptor protein in all primary tumors examined using immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, we observed erythropoietin coexpression in prostate cancer cells by immunohistochemical analysis. To determine whether monolayer cultures of continuous cell lines derived from prostate cancer also express erythropoietin receptor and erythropoietin, we studied well-characterized hormone-responsive (LNCaP) and hormone-refractory (PC-3) prostate cancer cell lines. We performed reverse-transcription and polymerase chain reaction assays to detect erythropoietin receptor and erythropoietin mRNA transcripts, and also immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting to detect erythropoietin receptor protein expression in prostate cancer cells. These experiments revealed the expression of both erythropoietin receptor and erythropoietin in LNCaP and PC-3 cells suggesting that these prostate cancer cell lines may serve as useful experimental models for further studies of erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor function in prostate cancer. The coexpression of erythropoietin receptor and its ligand erythropoietin in human prostate cancer cells suggests the potential for growth regulation by erythropoietin-erythropoietin receptor in an autocrine or paracrine manner.