To understand the role of estrogen in the pathogenesis of benign prostatic hyperplasia, expressions of estrogen receptor (ER) mRNA and ER protein by in situ hybridization and by immunohistochemistry, respectively, were investigated in human prostatic tissues. In non-malignant region, ER mRNA and ER protein were found in cytoplasm and nucleus, respectively, of stromal cells, but not in glandular epithelial and basal cells. In benign regions, ER mRNA/ER protein positive cells were found in fibromyoadenomatous and myoadenomatous hyperplasia, but not in adenomatous hyperplasia. A striking feature was periacinar arrangement of ER mRNA/ER protein positive stromal cells in all prostate carcinoma treated with androgen withdrawal. The ER mRNA/ER protein positive cells were immunohistochemically identified as fibroblasts, myoblasts, and smooth muscle cells. These results indicate that stromal cells are the primary target of estrogen in prostate, and that androgen withdrawal upregulates the expression of ER gene.