Tissues from human benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH] were collected from twelve patients undergoing routine transurethral resection of the prostate to relieve urine out-flow obstruction. Viable epithelial organoids were obtained after enzymatic digestion of the tissue. Primary cultures of epithelium were successfully maintained on collagen gel for up to 21 days. Immunocytochemical staining revealed that there was no expression of either desmin or vimentin in these cells; however, the anticytokeratin antibodies LP-34 (cytokeratins 4, 5, 6, 10, 13, 16, 17 and 18), LE-61 (cytokeratin 18) and CAM 5.2 (cytokeratins 7 and 8) all showed positive responses, indicating the epithelial nature of the cells. Cell growth was significantly increased in the presence of 3 x 10(-10) M testosterone propionate [TP] in the culture medium. The presence of the non-steroidal anti-androgens, Flutamide and Hydroxy-Flutamide [Flu-OH], in the concentration range 1.0-0.001 micrograms per ml of medium inhibited the growth in the presence of androgens in a dose-dependent manner. The anti-androgens failed to affect cell growth in the absence of TP. In view of these preliminary findings, it is postulated that the antiandrogens might be acting either by displacing the androgen from its receptor or alternately by inhibiting the activity of prostatic 5 alpha-reductase.