Tissue recombinants composed of adult human prostatic epithelium (hPrE) and rat urogenital sinus mesenchyme (rUGM) were grafted beneath the renal capsule of athymic rodent hosts. The pseudostratified human epithelium initially became multilayered, solid epithelial cords emerged, grew into the surrounding mesenchyme and canalized to regenerate a pseudostratified epithelium. Basal cells expressed cytokeratins 5 and 14, while luminal cells expressed cytokeratins 8 and 18, prostate specific antigen and prostatic acid phosphatase. The rat mesenchymal component differentiated into thick sheets of smooth muscle, characteristic of the human but not the rat prostate. These findings indicate that epithelial-mesenchymal interactions were reciprocal. Rat UGM induced adult hPrE to form new ductal-acinar tissue, involving epithelial proliferation, ductal branching morphogenesis and functional cytodifferentiation. Concurrently the epithelium dictated smooth muscle differentiation and patterning. Species-specific reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction SC (RT-PCR) analysis of the tissue recombinants was performed to separately examine the expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), TGF-beta 1, and TGF-beta 3 in the epithelium, stroma and host components of the graft. All of these genes, except TGF-beta 1, were expressed in all three tissues. Human TGF-beta 1 was not detected, indicating that this gene was not expressed in human prostatic epithelium but was present in stroma.