Prostate cancer is initially androgen dependent and there is evidence that androgen receptor continues to play a role in androgen-independent prostate cancer. Androgen receptor activity depends both on the level of androgens and on the level of coactivators that interact with androgen receptor. Our goal was to evaluate the role of the androgen receptor coactivator SRC-1 in prostate cancer progression. Using tissue arrays to measure SRC-1 protein levels, we found that increased SRC-1 expression in clinically localized, androgen-dependent cancer is associated with clinical and pathologic variables of increased tumor aggressiveness. Interestingly, there was variable expression of SRC-1 in normal prostate tissue which correlated with the staining intensity of the corresponding cancer tissue. To test the contribution of SRC-1, we examined its role in androgen-dependent LNCaP and androgen-independent C4-2 prostate cancer cell lines. Using small interfering RNA to reduce expression of androgen receptor, we found that androgen receptor was required both for cell growth and for basal expression of prostate-specific antigen in the androgen-independent C4-2 cell line. Thus, although the cells can grow in an androgen-depleted medium, they remained androgen receptor dependent. Reduction of SRC-1 expression significantly reduced growth and altered androgen receptor target gene regulation in both LNCaP and C4-2 cell lines whereas it had no effect on the growth of the androgen receptor-negative PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cell lines. Although the requirement for androgens and androgen receptor in the development of prostate cancer is well established, our study implicates enhanced androgen receptor activity through elevated expression of SRC-1 in the development of more aggressive disease in men with prostate cancer.