A functional model of adult human prostate epithelium is described. This model shows that stromal cells, but not an androgenic stimuli, are required for architectural organisation of prostate epithelium. Within an organised structure, androgenic stimulation is required for the establishment of secretory epithelial cell morphology and associated function. In the absence of stromal cells but in the presence of androgens architectural organisation and secretory function are lost. Epithelial parenchymal units (organoids) from human prostate tissue were isolated, cultured within a three-dimensional collagen matrix, and xenografted subcutaneously into athymic mouse hosts. The grafted gels were rapidly invaded by host fibroblasts. Epithelial organisation initially disappeared but was re-established concurrently with the stromal cell invasion. In intact male hosts, cuboidal and columnar cells that expressed human prostate-specific secretory markers were found. In castrated male and in female hosts epithelial structures were lined with flattened epithelium with no secretory function. This phenomenon could be reversibly replicated by treating intact male hosts with the anti-androgen Flutamide. Gels containing organoids grafted within 0.45 microns Millipore chambers were not invaded by stromal cells and rapidly lost all epithelial organisation and secretory function. When organoids cocultured with human foreskin fibroblasts were grafted within chambers, structural organisation of the epithelium was supported. These results indicate that both heterologous human fibroblasts and mouse stromal cells are capable of permissively supporting adult human prostate epithelial function.