The androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathway plays an important role during the development of the normal prostate gland, but also during the progression of prostate cancer on androgen ablation therapy. Mutations in the AR gene emerge to keep active the AR signaling pathway and to support prostate cancer cells growth and survival despite the low levels of circulating androgens. Indeed, mutations affecting the ligand binding domain (LBD) of the AR have been shown to generate so-called "promiscuous" receptors that present widened ligand specificity and allow the stimulation of these receptors by a larger spectrum of endogenous hormones. Another class of mutations, arising in the amino-terminal domain (NTD) of the receptor, modulate AR interactions with coregulators involved in cell proliferation regulation. Besides characteristics of these well-known types of mutations, the properties of other classes of AR mutants recently described in prostate cancer are currently under investigation. Most interestingly, in addition to their potential role in the mechanisms which allow prostate cancer cells to escape androgen ablation therapy, data suggest that certain AR mutations are present early in the natural history of the disease and may play a role in many aspects of prostate cancer progression. Surprisingly, singular truncated AR devoid of their carboxy-terminal end (CTE) region seem to exert specific paracrine effects and to induce a clonal cooperation with neighboring prostate cancer cells, which may facilitate both the invasion and metastasis processes. In this article, we review the functional properties of different classes of AR mutants and their potential impact on the natural history of prostate cancer. Hum Mutat 0, 1-14, 2008. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.