Early studies have reported the differential roles of androgen receptor (AR) in different types (luminal, basal intermediate, and stromal) of prostate cancer cells. In vivo mouse model tumor studies using the total prostate epithelial knockout mice (pes-ARKO) also revealed that AR played a suppressive role in proliferation of the CK5(+)/CK8(+) progenitor/intermediate cells but a positive role in the CK5(-)/CK8(+) luminal epithelial cells. Using three different resources (one human basal epithelial cell line, one mouse basal epithelial originated progenitor cell line, and a basal epithelium-specific ARKO mouse model), we here demonstrated that the AR in basal epithelial cells of normal prostate plays a suppressive role in their proliferation but a positive role in differentiation into luminal epithelial cells. These results led us to conclude that ARs may play a negative role to suppress CK5(+) basal epithelial and progenitor cell proliferation, yet play an essential role to drive basal epithelial cells into more differentiated states. These results may explain why differential AR expression in different cell types within normal prostate is needed and suggest that ARs in prostate basal epithelial cells, although expressed at a very low level, are necessary to maintain the balance between progenitor cells and differentiated luminal epithelial cells.