Cathepsin B, a lysosomal cysteine protease, was localized in normal prostate and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) using immunoperoxidase and protein A-gold techniques. Our objective was to determine whether cathepsin B was involved in the prostatic epithelium affected by nodular hyperplasia. All samples were collected immediately after prostatectomy. Immunohistochemical studies showed that the enzyme was expressed in the supranuclear cytoplasm of columnar cells and in numerous basal cells of normal and BPH acini. The strongest localization of cathepsin B occurred in acinar basal cells; hence, it is possible that cathepsin B could be useful as a marker for such cellular elements. Stromal macrophages showed reaction products, but lymphocytes and neutrophils did not. In both normal and hyperplastic glands, the enzyme was localized by gold particles in lysosomes, secretory granules, and vacuoles of columnar epithelial acinar cells. Immunoelectron microscopic study also showed the presence of cathepsin B in the heterochromatin (condensed chromatin) and nuclear membranes of columnar and basal cells, but not in euchromatin or nucleoli. At present, the function of cathepsin B in the nuclei of basal and columnar cells remains unknown. However, the cathepsin B in the cytoplasmic compartment might be associated with the lysosomal function of the cells. The role of cathepsin B as a marker for basal cell participation in the development of prostatic lesions should be studied further.