To identify genes associated with prostate cancer progression, we developed a strategy involving the use of differential display-PCR with a panel of genetically matched primary tumor- and metastasis-derived mouse prostate cancer cell lines. We isolated a cDNA fragment with homology to the mouse caveolin-1 gene. Northern blotting with this fragment revealed increased caveolin expression in metastasis-derived cell lines relative to primary tumor-derived cell lines. Western blotting with a polyclonal caveolin antibody confirmed increased caveolin protein in metastasis-derived mouse cell lines and expression in three of four human prostate cancer cell lines. Immunohistochemical analysis of a human prostate cancer cell line demonstrated a prominent granular pattern of caveolin accumulation. Subsequent analysis of mouse and human prostate specimens revealed minimal caveolin expression in normal epithelium with abundant staining of smooth muscle and endothelium. The frequency of caveolin-positive cells was increased in prostate cancer with markedly increased accumulation of caveolin and a granular staining pattern in lymph node metastatic deposits. In human breast cancer specimens, increased caveolin staining was detected in intraductal and infiltrating ductal carcinoma as well as nodal disease. Caveolin therefore appears to be associated with human prostate cancer progression and is also present in primary and metastatic human breast cancer.