Flutamide, a nonsteroidal antiandrogenic drug devoid of hormonal agonist activity, is used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. In previously untreated patients, flutamide 750 mg daily given alone is of comparable efficacy to diethylstilbestrol (stilboestrol) 1 or 3 mg daily and estramustine 560 or 840 mg daily, but has the potential advantages of fewer cardiovascular effects and maintenance of some sexual potency. Its greatest therapeutic potential is as a component of combination androgen blockade, where administration with an agonist analogue of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) [luteinising hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH)] in both initial uncontrolled and randomised studies increased survival time relative to GnRH agonist monotherapy or orchidectomy. Subsequent multicentre trials, however, have been unable to confirm an improvement in survival time. Thus, while there seems to be little doubt that flutamide prevents the initial disease flare caused by GnRH agonists, an improvement in remission rate and survival remains contentious. Flutamide is generally well tolerated and is suitable monotherapy in patients with previously untreated advanced prostatic cancer who wish to preserve sexual potency. However, full assessment of the role of combination androgen blockade awaits publication of the final results of ongoing multicentre trials.