The alpha-1 adrenergic innervation of the human prostate has been studied using radioligand receptor binding methods and in vitro contractile experiments. The density of alpha-1 adrenergic binding sites is of the same order of magnitude as alpha-2 adrenergic and muscarinic-cholinergic (MCh) receptors in the human prostate adenoma. The contractile response of human prostate adenomas to selective alpha-1, alpha-2, and MCh agonists indicated that smooth muscle contraction of the human prostate is mediated by alpha-1 adrenoceptors. The selective affinities of terazosin for alpha-1 and alpha-2 binding sites were determined using competitive displacement assays. Terazosin was shown to have a four hundred-fold greater affinity for alpha-1 binding sites. The concentration of terazosin-inhibiting phenylephrine-induced contractions suggested that terazosin inhibits prostate smooth muscle contraction via alpha-1 adrenoceptors.