Prior to a possible clinical application of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for prostatic diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, optical properties of the prostate gland need to be studied. The specific objectives of this study were (1) to determine the light penetration depth, (2) to document the photosensitizer levels in the prostate, and (3) to document the lesion size after PDT. Sixteen dogs were injected with Photofrin II (1, 3 and 5 mg/kg) 24 hrs prior to laser application. After laparotomy and exposure of prostate, monochromatic light (630 nm, via an argon pumped dye laser) was applied through an isotropic fiber at 100 mw for a total dose of 400 joules. Continuous light fluence and temperature were documented. Prostates were harvested at 1 week and examined histologically for the lesion size. Four sham dogs were treated without Photofrin II. At Photofrin doses of 1, 3 and 5 mg/kg the mean prostatic Photofrin levels were 1.78 plus or minus 0.33, 1.47 plus or minus 0.08 and 1.95 plus or minus 0.44 (mu) gm/ml. The mean light penetration depths were 2.08, 1.37 and 1.64 mm respectively. Photofrin dose escalation (1, 3 and 5 mg/kg) increased the lesion size to radius of 4.1 plus or minus 0.9 mm, 4.4 plus or minus 0.8 mm and 6.3 plus or minus 0.9 mm. There were no lesions seen in sham dogs. These results demonstrate that light penetration in prostate is consistent and therapeutic levels of photosensitizer are achieved in prostatic tissue. Moreover, increasing size of the lesions were documented with dose escalation.