Two transplantable, androgen dependent prostate tumor models of human origin, PC-82 and PC-EW, were used to study the effect of low androgen levels and adrenal androgens on prostate tumor cell proliferation. Tumor load of the PC-82 and PC-EW tumors could be maintained constant when plasma testosterone levels were 0.8 and 0.9 nmol/l, respectively, corresponding with an intratissue 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone level of 3-4 pmol/g tissue. This critical androgen level for prostate tumor growth stimulation amounted to 2-3 times the castration level and proved to be similar for both tumor models. Relatively high levels of androstenedione resulted in physiological levels of plasma testosterone causing androgen concentrations in PC-82 tumor tissue exceeding the critical level for tumor growth. These results indicate that submaximal suppression of androgens can stop tumor growth in these prostate tumor models.