Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death for men in the United States. Prostate cancer incidence and associated mortality are highest in African American men in comparison to other races. The observed differences in incidence and disease aggressiveness at presentation support a potential role for different pathways of prostate carcinogenesis between African American and Caucasian men. This review focuses on some of the recent molecular biology discoveries, which have been investigated in prostate carcinogenesis and their likely contribution to the known discrepancies across race and ethnicity. Key discussion points include the androgen receptor gene structure and function, genome-wide association studies and epigenetics. The new observations of the ethnic differences of the ERG oncogene, the most common prostate cancer gene, are providing new insights into ERG based stratification of prostate cancers in the context of ethnically diverse patient populations. This rapidly advancing knowledge has the likely potential to benefit clinical practice. Current and future work will improve the ability to sub-type prostate cancers by molecular alterations and lead to targeted therapy against this common malignancy.