Polypeptide growth factors are positive and negative regulators of prostatic growth and function. Expression and biological effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factors (TGFs) alpha and beta, fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in the prostate have been extensively studied. EGF and TGF alpha, which share the same receptor, are strong mitogens for prostatic epithelial and stromal cells. Their paracrine mode of action in normal tissue and early-stage tumors is apparently altered towards an autocrine stimulation in hormone-independent tumors, which gain the ability to produce TGF alpha by themselves. TGF beta has a dual role in the regulation of prostatic growth. It inhibits growth of prostatic epithelial cells in culture and mediates programmed cell death after androgen withdrawal. However, advanced prostatic carcinomas become insensitive to the inhibitory effect of TGF beta. Several members of the FGF family have been identified in the prostate. They are mainly or exclusively expressed in the stromal cells, and stimulate the epithelial cells. In the rat Dunning tumor model, progression is accompanied by distinct changes in the expression of FGFs and their receptors. In the hyperplastic tissue, basic FGF (bFGF) is accumulated. This growth factor is also a potent angiogenic inducer, expression of which may determine the metastatic capability of a tumor. IGFs are paracrine growth stimulators in the normal and hyperplastic prostate. It is still under consideration whether prostatic cancer cells gain the ability to produce IGF-I by themselves and thus shift to an autocrine mode of IGF-I stimulation. Growth factors also interact with the androgen-signaling pathway. IGF-I in particular, other growth factors as well, can activate the androgen receptor.