The plasminogen activation (PA) cascade participates in degradation of extracellular matrix during cancer invasion. We have studied the expression of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) mRNA, uPA receptor (uPAR) mRNA and immunoreactivity, and type-1 plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) mRNA and immunoreactivity in 16 prostate adenocarcinomas and 9 benign prostate hyperplasias. uPA mRNA and uPAR mRNA expression were found in 9 and 8 of the adenocarcinomas, respectively, and in 7 and 6 of the benign hyperplasias, respectively. In both malignant and benign lesions, expression of these 2 mRNAs was predominantly seen in cells identified as macrophages, which in most of the carcinomas (∼90%) were located in the interstitial tissue between the tumor cell islands, while in most of the benign hyperplasias they were located in the lumen of the glands and were in only a few cases (∼30%) found in the interstitial tissue. uPAR immunoreactivity correlated with the mRNA expression and was, in addition, found in neutrophils. PAI-1 mRNA was detected in 13 of the 16 carcinomas and in 8 of the 9 benign hyperplasias, located in scattered fibroblast-like cells in both groups, in some vascular structures and in a few macrophages located in the interstitial tissue of both malignant and benign lesions. A similar expression pattern was found for PAI-1 immunoreactivity. In 8 of the 16 carcinomas, all 3 components were present, and in several areas colocalization was observed in stromal cells in close proximity to cancer cell islands. No immunoreactivity and/or mRNA expression of uPA, uPAR or PAI-1 was observed in cancer cells or in other epithelial cells in any of the cases. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.