Using quantitative RT-PCR, we found that T1 rat prostate cancer cell relative FGF-1 transcript content was about 180-fold greater than that of FGF-2. This difference in transcript content was not representative of T1 cell relative FGF-1 and FGF-2 protein content which showed, at most, only a 4- to 5-fold greater FGF-1 content. Testosterone caused time-dependent down-regulation of prostate cancer cell FGF-2 transcript content without influencing either FGF-1 or FGF-8 transcript content or T1 cell proliferation. Moreover, testosterone-mediated down-regulation of prostate cancer cell FGF-2 transcripts did not result in a statistically significant change in 21.5 or 17.0 kD FGF-2 isoform content. By contrast, an approximately 20% statistically significant decrement in 19.5 kD FGF-2 isoform content was demonstrable following 24 h testosterone treatment. However, following 72 h testosterone treatment, T1 cell 19.5 kD FGF-2 isoform content was not statistically significantly different from that of control. It is probable that the modest and variable decrement in 19.5 kD isoform content is not physiologically significant and is attributable to artifact resulting from difficulty quantifying this minor component of the FGF-2 isoforms. Transient transfection analysis showed that androgen caused concentration-dependent increases in MMTV-LTR regulated expression of chloramphenicol acetyl transferase activity. Consequently, the failure of androgen to affect either T1 cell FGF-1 and FGF-8 transcript content or T1 cell proliferation could not be attributed to defective androgen receptor function. Moreover, the absence of a close relationship between T1 cell FGF-2 transcript and FGF-2 protein content implies that FGF-2 transcript content is not the dominant determinant of prostate cancer cell FGF-2 protein content. Testosterone-mediated down-regulation of prostate-cancer-cell gene expression may have significance for clinical management of human disease that is treated by androgen ablation. The possibility that such ablation may enhance aggressiveness of "androgen-independent" cells by selective upregulation of gene expression merits further consideration.