Despite the high number of previous studies, the role of p53 alterations in prostate cancer is not clearly defined. To address the role of p53 alterations in prostate cancer biology, a total of 2514 cancers treated by radical prostatectomy were successfully analyzed by immunohistochemistry in a tissue microarray format. Overall a low rate of p53-positive tumors was found (2.5%). A significant underestimation of p53-positive cases was excluded by subsequent large section analyses and direct sequencing of the p53 gene in subsets of our patients. Large section analysis of 23 cases considered negative on the tissue microarray yielded only one weakly p53-positive tumor. Only 4 out of 64 (6.4%) high-grade tumors, that were considered negative for p53 by immunohistochemistry, presented exon 5-8 mutations. These data suggest a high sensitivity of our immunohistochemistry approach and confirm the overall low frequency of p53 alterations in clinically localized prostate cancer. A positive p53 immunostaining was strongly associated with presence of exon 5-8 mutations (P<0.0001), advanced pT-stage (P<0.0001), high Gleason grade (P<0.0001), positive surgical margins (P=0.03) and early biochemical tumor recurrence (P<0.0001). A higher rate of positive p53 immunostaining was detected in late-stage diseases including metastatic prostate cancer (P=0.0152) and hormone-refractory tumors (P=0.0003). Moreover, p53 expression was identified as an independent predictor of biochemical tumor recurrence in the subgroup of low- and intermediate-grade cancers. In summary, the results of this study show that p53 mutations characterize a small biologically aggressive subgroup of prostate cancers with a high risk of progression after prostatectomy. The rate of p53 alterations increases with prostate cancer progression.