Loss of the RB1 gene is an important event in the initiation and progression of many tumours. Prostate tissue from 43 patients with prostate cancers and ten with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) were studied for loss of heterozygosity of the RB1 gene. Four intragenic polymorphic loci were studied with two techniques. These were restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). Southern blotting and hybridisation with the p123m1.8 and p68RS2.0 probes (to introns 1 and 17 respectively) and also the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify loci within introns 17 and 20. Protein product (pRB) expression was determined by immunohistochemistry using the NCL-RB antibody in nine patients with cancer and four patients with BPH. Loss of heterozygosity was found in 24 out of 40 (60%) informative patients with cancer. Loss of RB1 occurred with a similar frequency in early-stage and low-grade cancers as in more advanced cancers. Loss of RB1 was also found in one patient with BPH. Expression of pRB was completely absent from seven cancers and markedly reduced in the other two, while nuclear pRB staining was always present in areas of BPH, whether alongside cancer-containing tissue or with BPH alone. We conclude that loss of RB1 is an early event in prostatic tumorigenesis.