The incidence of prostate cancer has increased in Japan recently and is developing into a life-threatening disease for many Japanese men. This is a result of several convergent factors including the adoption of a Western lifestyle, the widespread use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, and an increased population of advanced years in Japanese men. Although there is much information to date relating to molecular events underlying the etiology of prostate cancer, it is still unclear as to how and when these genetic alterations occur in each step of tumorigenesis. One fruitful area of investigation has been in the analysis of chromosomal abnormalities commonly observed in prostate cancer. However, no single candidate gene has been definitely identified in cancer initiation and/or progression; in addition, less research has been devoted to understanding the molecular events that underlie tumor histogenesis in terms of likely precursor lesions, such as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). This article reviews the current knowledge of the molecular pathology of prostate cancer, including its histogenesis, genetic and epigenetic alterations, and hereditary factors.