Prostate cancer carries significant morbidity and mortality, but its outcome is difficult to predict in the individual. Androgen ablation delays progression in men, but hormone resistance soon develops and much basic science research has focused on how prostate cancer 'escapes' hormonal control. Stem cell models of prostate development and homeostasis have been proposed, but have not yet been fully characterized. Some androgen-regulated signalling pathways and abnormalities that affect them have been defined recently. It is apparent that locally produced growth factors, often regulated by androgens, exert an effect both physiologically and pathologically and these too will be discussed.