[en] Type IV collagen, a major component of basement membranes, is organized in a network responsible for the mechanical resistance of the basement membranes. It also plays a key role in epithelial cell adhesion to basement membranes. This study was designed to investigate the distribution of type IV collagen alpha-chains in normal, preneoplastic, and malignant prostate basement membranes. For this purpose, immunohistochemistry using specific antibodies raised against the different alpha-chains of type IV collagen was performed in eight normal samples, six prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, and 20 malignant lesions of the prostate. Our results demonstrate the presence of the "novel" alpha 5 (IV) and alpha 6 (IV) chains along with the "classical" alpha 1 (IV)/alpha 2 (IV) chains in the basement membrane of the normal prostate gland. The alpha 3 (IV) chain was never detected in any prostate specimen. Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia showed a similar immunostaining pattern to that found in normal glands. In cancer gland basement membranes, we demonstrate for the first time a specific loss of the alpha 5 (IV) and alpha 6 (IV) chains, whereas the classical alpha 1 (IV) and alpha 2 (IV) chains were consistently exhibited. Additionally, type VII collagen colocalized with alpha 5 (IV) collagen chain, and these two proteins, which were always observed in normal and prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia gland basement membranes, were lost in invasive carcinoma basement membranes. This observation raises questions about the possible association or cooperation between alpha 5 (IV)/alpha 6 (IV) chains and anchoring fibrils in prostate glands basement membrane.