The diagnostic specificity of the detection of disseminated prostatic cells by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of PSA mRNA was investigated. A sensitive nested PCR was developed. In blood samples from 10 healthy female and 10 healthy male persons examined by RT-PCR, mRNA of PSA was detected 3 times in each group. In the groups of patients suffering from benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer, 6 of 11 and 5 of 12, respectively, gave positive RT-PCR results. With increasing analytical sensitivity of the RT-PCR of PSA mRNA, the diagnostic specificity of the assay is decreased. Further development of this diagnostic method requires the introduction of the quantitative PCR which may make possible discrimination between prostatic and non-prostatic source of PSA mRNA by quantification.