Prostate is one of the major targets for dihydrotestosterone (DHT), however this gland is also recognized as a nonclassical target for estrogen as it expresses both types of estrogen receptors (ER), especially ERbeta. Nevertheless, the concentrations of aromatase and estradiol in the prostate are low, indicating that estradiol may not be the only estrogenic molecule to play a role in the prostate. It is known that DHT can be metabolized to 5alpha-androstane-3beta,17beta-diol (3beta-diol), a hormone that binds to ERbeta but not to AR. The concentration of 3beta-diol in prostate is much higher than that of estradiol. Based on the high concentration of 3beta-diol and since this metabolite is a physiological ERbeta ligand, we hypothesized that 3beta-diol would be involved in the regulation of ERbeta expression. To test this hypothesis, adult male rats were submitted to castration followed by estradiol, DHT or 3beta-diol replacement. ERbeta and AR protein levels in the prostate were investigated by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting assays. The results showed that after castration, the structure of the prostate was dramatically changed and ERbeta and AR protein levels were decreased. Estradiol had just minor effects on the parameters analyzed. DHT-induced partial recovery of ERbeta while it was the most effective inductor of AR expression. Replacement with 3beta-diol-induced the highest levels of ERbeta, but was comparatively less effective in recovering the AR expression and the gland structure. These results offer evidence that one functional role of 3beta-diol in the prostate may be autoregulation of its natural receptor, ERbeta.