Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) has been shown to be the primary factor responsible for humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy. Recently PTHrP has been shown to be an early-response gene that may be involved in cellular proliferation or differentiation. In addition, PTHrP has been implicated in the pathogenesis of bone metastases. Bone metastases are a significant complication in patients with prostate cancer. We compared the expression of PTHrP by immunohistochemical staining using a monoclonal antibody directed against epitope between amino acids [53-64] in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) with that in various stages of prostate cancer. Tissue sections were obtained on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded blocks from BPH, well-differentiated prostate cancer, poorly differentiated prostate cancer, lymph node metastases (n = 15 each), and normal prostate (n = 2). In the normal prostate tissue there was no staining observed. In BPH, 13 of 15 tissue samples were positive for PTHrP immunoreactivity. An average of 33% of the cells stained positive with 1+ intensity. All samples from prostate cancer stained positive for PTHrP. In the samples from well-differentiated prostate cancer, an average of 87% of cells stained positive for PTHrP, whereas 100% of cells were positive in poorly differentiated and metastatic tumors. The intensity of staining was 3+ in well-differentiated tumors and 4+ in poorly differentiated tumors. Therefore, the expression of PTHrP is enhanced in prostate cancer as compared with BPH and is greater in poorly differentiated carcinoma as compared with the well-differentiated tumors. The role of PTHrP in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer deserves further study.