Whole tissue dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and testosterone (T) concentrations have been measured after finasteride, a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, and this was compared to other methods of androgen inhibition. In 10 patients treated for 1 week with finasteride, whole tissue DHT decreased to a mean of 0.302 ng/g. This value was significantly less than DHT values in control patients (mean, 4.5 ng/g) and patients treated with either surgical castration (mean, 1.14 ng/g), megestrol (160 mg/day) plus diethylstilbestrol (0.1 mg), or megestrol plus ketoconazole (1200 mg/day; mean, 0.609). Tissue T levels were significantly increased in finasteride-treated patients (1.18 ng/g) compared to a mean of 0.171 ng/g in controls and 0.105 ng/g in megestrol-treated patients. Part of the prostate tissue obtained at surgery was mechanically separated into epithelium and stroma. The epithelial cells were homogenized, the supernate was assayed for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an androgen-dependent protein, and the pellet was assayed for DHT and DNA. Epithelial cell PSA and DHT values significantly decreased in finasteride- and megestrol- plus estrogen-treated patients compared to controls. However, the slope and position of the regression lines for DHT vs. PSA in patients treated with megestrol plus low dose estrogen (r = 0.79) differed significantly (P less than 0.05) from the regression line relating epithelial DHT to PSA in patients treated with finasteride (r = 0.82). Since the regression slope for finasteride described a greater increase in PSA per unit change in DHT compared to the slope for megestrol plus estrogen, which lowers both DHT and T, finasteride, despite its drastic lowering of DHT, may have a modest residual androgenic effect related to its effect on tissue T.