Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies and the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. The molecular mechanisms driving prostate carcinogenesis are complex; with several lines of evidence suggesting that the reexpression of conserved developmental programs plays a key role. In this study, we used conditional gene targeting and organ grafting, to describe conserved roles for the transcription factor Sox9 in the initiation of both prostate organogenesis and prostate carcinogenesis in murine models. Abrogation of Sox9 expression prior to the initiation of androgen signaling blocks the initiation of prostate development. Similarly, Sox9 deletion in two genetic models of prostate cancer (TRAMP and Hi-Myc) prevented cancer initiation. Expression profiling of Sox9-null prostate epithelial cells revealed that the role of Sox9 in the initiation of prostate development may relate to its regulation of multiple cytokeratins and cell adherence/ polarity. Due to its essential role in cancer initiation, manipulation of Sox9 targets in at-risk men may prove useful in the chemoprevention of prostate cancer.