Normal human prostatic (NHP) epithelial cells undergo senescence in vitro and in vivo, but little is known about the tissue-specific molecular mechanisms. Here we first characterize young primary NHP cells as CK5(+)/CK18(+) intermediate basal cells that also express several other putative stem/progenitor cell markers including p63, CD44, alpha2beta1, and hTERT. When cultured in serum- and androgen-free medium, NHP cells gradually lose the expression of these markers, slow down in proliferation, and enter senescence. Several pieces of evidence implicate 15-lipoxygenase 2 (15-LOX2), a molecule with a restricted tissue expression and most abundantly expressed in adult human prostate, in the replicative senescence of NHP cells. First, the 15-LOX2 promoter activity and the mRNA and protein levels of 15-LOX2 and its multiple splice variants are upregulated in serially passaged NHP cells, which precede replicative senescence and occur in a cell-autonomous manner. Second, all immortalized prostate epithelial cells and prostate cancer cells do not express 15-LOX2. Third, PCa cells stably transfected with 15-LOX2 or 15-LOX2sv-b, a splice variant that does not possess arachidonate-metabolizing activity, show a passage-related senescence-like phenotype. Fourth, infection of early-passage NHP cells with retroviral vectors encoding 15-LOX2 or 15-LOX2sv-b induces partial cell-cycle arrest and big and flat senescence-like phenotype. Finally, 15-LOX2 protein expression in human prostate correlates with age. Together, these data suggest that 15-LOX2 may represent an endogenous prostate senescence gene and its tumor-suppressing functions might be associated with its ability to induce cell senescence.