Previous work carried out in the authors' laboratory has shown that LHRH agonists directly inhibit the proliferation of hormone-responsive and hormone-independent human prostatic cancer cell lines (respectively LNCaP and DU145). In addition, the hormone-dependent LNCaP cells respond to a challenge with testosterone with an increase in growth rate. The following experiments have been performed to investigate whether the LHRH agonists might act by interfering with the stimulatory actions of either the EGF/TGF alpha system or androgens. The results obtained in LNCaP and DU145 cells show that LHRH agonists counteract the mitogenic action of the EGF/TGF alpha system. This effect is mediated by a decrease in the concentration of EGF receptors. In addition, in the hormone-dependent LNCaP cells, the treatment with LHRH agonists antagonizes the proliferation promoting effect of testosterone, which in turn appears to be mediated by the activation of the locally expressed EGF/TGF alpha system. Finally, the results suggest the presence in LNCaP cells of a soluble peptidase able to degrade LHRH. In conclusion, the present data suggest an intimate interplay among the actions of LHRH agonists, of androgens and of growth factors, thus, supporting the hypothesis that LHRH agonists may interfere with the EGF/TGF alpha stimulatory loop and with androgens in the control of the proliferation of human prostatic tumors.