The partial oligosaccharide sequences of glycoconjugates and the nature of their glycosidic linkages were investigated in normal human prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatic carcinoma by means of lectin histochemistry, using light microscopy and Western blot analysis. The labeling pattern of BPH differed from that of normal prostate in having more intense staining with DSA, HPA, UEA-I and AAA, and in showing lesser staining with WGA and SBA. Prostatic carcinoma differed from normal prostates in displaying the more intense labeling with PNA, DSA, SBA, DBA, UEA-I and AAA, and in having lesser labeling with WGA. The main differences in labeling pattern between prostatic carcinoma and BPH were that the latter specimens showed more marked staining with PNA, DSA, DBA, SBA, UEA-I and AAA, and lesser staining with WGA and HPA. The staining patterns of SNA, MAA, ConA, LCA and GNA were similar in all three groups of specimens. For most of the lectins studied, including those showing a similar immunohistochemical staining in the three groups of specimens studied, the Western blot analysis showed differences in the banding pattern among normal, hyperplastic, and carcinomatous prostates. Present results suggest that the glycosylation of proteins was modified in both BPH and prostatic carcinoma. In BPH a strong expression of N-acetylgalactosamine residues occurred, while in prostatic carcinoma an increase of sialic aci, galactose and fucose residues was observed. No changes in mannose residues were detected.