OBJECTIVE: Calcitriol analogues might represent an interesting new therapy for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). We here report the preclinical characterization of BXL-628, an analogue selected for an ongoing double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II trial in BPH. DESIGN: Experiments with BXL-628 were carried out in human BPH cells and in the ventral prostate of intact and castrated rats. METHODS: BPH cell and rat prostate growth were evaluated along with morphological and biochemical hallmarks of apoptosis. RESULTS: BXL-628 inhibited human BPH cell proliferation and induced apoptosis even in the presence of androgens or growth factors. It also decreased prostate growth to an extent similar to finasteride, inducing DNA fragmentation and apoptosis, both in intact and in testosterone-supplemented castrated rats. Accordingly, BXL-628, like finasteride, increased the expression of clusterin, a prostatic atrophy marker. However, BXL-628 did not inhibit 5 alpha-reductase 1 and 2, did not bind to the androgen receptor (AR) in BPH homogenates and did not affect AR-coupled luciferase activity. In addition, BXL-628 did not affect rat pituitary and testis activity or calcemia. CONCLUSIONS: BXL-628 inhibited in vitro and in vivo prostate cell proliferation, and therefore might represent a novel, interesting option for the treatment of BPH.