We analysed the relation between family history of cancer in first-degree relatives and risk of prostate cancer (PC) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) using data from a multicentric case-control study conducted in Italy from 1991 to 2002 on 1,294 cases of incident, histologically confirmed PC, 1,369 cases of BPH and 1,451 men admitted to the same network of hospitals for acute, nonneoplastic conditions. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) of PC and BPH, adjusted for age and other confounders. Men with a family history of PC had an OR of PC of 4.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.5-6.5), and the risk was higher when the proband was younger, when 2 or more relatives were affected or when the affected relative was a brother. The risk of PC was also increased in men with a family history of cancer of the ovary (OR = 6.2, 95% CI 1.2-32), bladder (OR = 3.5, 95% CI 1.6-7.4) and kidney (OR = 3.1, 95% CI 1.1-8.5). An involvement of breast/ovarian cancer predisposition genes in a small proportion of PCs was suggested by the cluster of these cancers in female relatives of a few PC cases. The risk of BPH was increased in men with a family history of bladder cancer (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.0-5.0) but not PC (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 0.7-2.2). Our study adds further information on the association of family history of cancer and risk of PC and is, to our knowledge, the first comprehensive epidemiologic information on family history of cancer and risk of BPH.