Objectives. To determine the cell-specific expression of the two major isoforms of cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) in human noncancerous and cancerous prostatic tissues. Methods. Thirty-one specimens of prostate carcinoma (CaP) and 10 specimens of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) were stained with mouse antihuman COX-1 and COX-2 monoclonal antibodies. The stained specimens were analyzed both descriptively and in a semiquantitative manner by assigning an immunoreactive intensity score (0 to 4). The averaged results were compared for different histologic tissue types, including luminal and basal epithelium of BPH, the peripheral zone, high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), and CaP of varying Gleason grades. Results. COX-1 expression in noncancerous prostatic tissue was seen predominantly in the basal epithelial cells of BPH (90% positive staining). COX-1 expression was minimal in noncancerous luminal epithelial cells (0% to 10%) but was upregulated in CaP (63% of CaP specimens). Strong COX-2 expression was demonstrated in the smooth muscle cells of the prostate. COX-2 was also expressed in the basal epithelial cells (60% BPH, 94% peripheral zone, 75% PIN). Luminal epithelial cells derived from BPH, the peripheral zone, and PIN expressed COX-2 in 0%, 26%, and 86% of samples, respectively. COX-2 expression in CaP was intense and uniform, with 87% of samples demonstrating immunoreactivity. Conclusions. The results of the present study indicate that expression of both COX-1 and COX-2 in human CaP is increased. COX-2 expression is also increased in the basal and luminal epithelial cells of PIN. These data indicate that COX-1 and COX-2 (and/or their prostaglandin products) may play a role in the malignant transformation of the prostate. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.