Cluster designation (CD) antigens are cell surface markers that can be used to identify constituent cell populations of an organ. We have previously determined the CD phenotype of normal prostate parenchymal cells and are now extending this analysis to prostate cancer. Since expression of CD antigens is associated with cellular differentiation, cancer cells may differ from their normal counterpart in their CD profile. Compared with luminal secretory cells, prostate adenocarcinoma cells are frequently negative for CD10 and CD13, express increased levels of the cell activation molecule CD24, and decreased levels of the apoptosis-associated multifunctional enzyme CD38. Expression of CD57, CD63, CD75s, CD107a, CD107b, CD164, and CD166 by cancer cells is similar to that of secretory cells. Prostate basal epithelial cells do not express the CD antigens characteristic of prostate secretory cells; and the basal cell CD markers, CD29, CD44, CD49b, CD49f, CD104, and nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR) are not expressed by cancer cells. The preferential expression of secretory cell-associated CD markers by prostate cancer cells suggests a closer lineage relationship between cancer cells and secretory cells than basal cells. Although the above cancer CD phenotype was the most frequently seen, some prostate cancers contained populations of CD10- and/or CD13-positive cells, and CD57-negative cells. Furthermore, the cancer phenotype of tumor metastasis is different. Despite its low frequency in primary tumors, CD10 is expressed by virtually all of the nodal metastases of prostate cancer. In addition, stromal fibromuscular cells associated with primary prostate cancer differ from stromal cells in benign prostate tissue by an increased level of expression of the cell activation molecule, CD90. In summary, our data show that the CD marker expression profile of prostate cancer cells most closely resembles that of secretory prostate epithelial cells and that some prostate cancers consist of heterogeneous cell populations as distinguished by CD-marker expression profiles.