Evidence that the androgen receptor (AR) is not only important in androgen-dependent prostate cancer, but also continues to play a role in tumors that become resistant to androgen deprivation therapies, highlights the need to find alternate means to block AR activity. AR, a hormone-activated transcription factor, and its coactivators are phosphoproteins. Thus, we sought to determine whether inhibition of specific cell signaling pathways would reduce AR function. We found that short-term inhibition of p42/p44 MAPK activity either by a MAPK kinase inhibitor, U0126, or by depletion of kinase with small interfering RNA caused target gene-specific reductions in AR activity. AR enhances histone H3 acetylation of target genes that are sensitive to U0126 including prostate-specific antigen and TMPRSS2, but does not increase histone H3 acetylation of the U0126-resistant PMEPA1 gene. Thus, although AR induces transcription of many target genes, the molecular changes induced by AR at the chromatin level are target gene specific. Long-term treatment (24-48 h) with U0126 causes a G(1) cell cycle arrest and reduces AR expression both through a decrease in AR mRNA and a reduction in AR protein stability. Thus, treatments that reduce p42/p44 MAPK activity in prostate cancer have the potential to reduce AR activity through a reduction in expression levels as well as by target gene-selective inhibition of AR function.