Prostate cancer has a slow growing noninvasive phase, but, in general, is invasive on diagnosis. An initial step in the invasion of surrounding normal tissue is the activity of proteolytic enzymes such as components of the plasminogen activator system (PA). In cell culture, the primary human prostate cancer cell line 1013L expressed no urokinase type-PA (uPA), while DU 145, a cell line derived from a metastatic lesion, expressed high levels of uPA. The DU 145 cells grew easily as xenografts but the establishment of 1013L in the SCID mice was possible only with the aid of a gelatin sponge (Spongostan). The latency period was 42-64 days, followed by a slow growth phase before a fast growth phase occurred. This fast growth phase was characterized by rapid degeneration of tumor tissue, while high proliferation occurred around the blood vessels. On serial transplantation of tumor material, the growth pattern was similar. Furthermore, the 1013L tumor was encapsulated by connective tissue and no invasiveness could be detected. We found that 1013L tumor homogenates had hardly detectable levels of uPA, i.e., 300-fold lower than we found in the invasive prostate xenograft DU 145. In addition, no expression of uPA was found in the plasma of 1013L tumor-bearing mice whilst uPA antigen was detected in the plasma of DU 145 tumor-bearing mice. In conclusion, the 1013L cell line, which exhibits a nonaggressive pattern, could be a good model for studying progression of prostate cancer to a more aggressive phenotype in vivo and in vitro.