African-American men die from prostate cancer (PC) nearly twice as often as white US men and consume about twice as much of the predominant US dietary heterocyclic amine, 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP), a genotoxic rat-prostate carcinogen found primarily in well-cooked chicken and beef. To investigate the hypothesis that PhIP exposure increases PC risk, an ongoing prospective clinic-based study compared PC screening outcomes with survey-based estimates of dietary PhIP intake among 40-70-year-old African-American men with no prior PC in Oakland, CA. They completed food-frequency and meat-cooking/consumption questionnaires and had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital-rectal exam. Results for 392 men indicated a 17 (+/-17) ng/kg day mean (+/-1 s.d.) daily intake of PhIP, about twice that of white US men of similar age. PhIP intake was attributable mostly to chicken (61%) and positively associated (R(2)=0.32, P<0.0001) with saturated fat intake. An odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 31 (3.1-690) for highly elevated PSA > or =20 ng/ml was observed in the highest 15% vs lowest 50% of estimated daily PhIP intake (> or =30 vs < or =10 ng/kg day) among men 50+ years old (P=0.0002 for trend) and remained significant after adjustment for self-reported family history of (brother or father) PC, saturated fat intake and total energy intake. PSA measures were higher in African-American men with positive family history (P=0.007 all men, P<0.0001 highest PSA quartile). These preliminary results are consistent with a positive association between PhIP intake and highly elevated PSA, supporting the hypothesis that dietary intervention may help reduce PC risk.