To clarify the role in prostate tumorigenesis played by loss of the three known or putative tumor suppressor loci on the centromeric portion of chromosome 13q, we examined 80 clinically localized and 15 advanced prostate carcinomas for allelic loss at microsatellite markers mapped to this region, including markers tightly linked to the BRCA-2, retinoblastoma (Rb), and DBM (deleted in B-cell malignancy) loci. Among the 80 clinically localized cases, 24 showed allelic loss at one or more 13q loci. In all cases with loss, the Rb and/or DBM loci were lost. No cases were found with loss of Rb without loss of DBM or loss of DBM without loss of Rb, implying a role for both the Rb and DBM loci in clinically localized prostate cancer. Loss of the BRCA-2 locus was less common (4 of 55 informative cases) and was always associated with loss of Rb and/or DBM loci. Thus, the BRCA-2 locus does not appear to play as important a role in clinically localized prostate cancer as the Rb and/or DBM loci. Allelic loss on 13q was extremely common in the clinically advanced cases; it was present in 14 of the 15 cases. The rate of allelic loss at each of the three tumor suppressor loci was increased significantly in the advanced cases (P < 0.01, Fisher's exact test). Thus, loss of heterozygosity on 13q is very common in prostate cancer and occurs at all three known or putative tumor suppressor loci on the centromeric portion of chromosome 13q.