Synthesis of truncated androgen receptor (AR) splice variants has emerged as an important mechanism of prostate cancer (PCa) resistance to AR-targeted therapy and progression to a lethal castration-resistant phenotype. However, the precise role of these factors at this stage of the disease is not clear due to loss of multiple COOH-terminal AR protein domains, including the canonical nuclear localization signal (NLS) in the AR hinge region. Despite loss of this NLS, we show that diverse truncated AR variant species have a basal level of nuclear localization sufficient for ligand-independent transcriptional activity. Whereas full-lengthARrequires Hsp90 and importin-β for active nuclear translocation, basal nuclear localization of truncated AR variants is independent of these classical signals. For a subset of truncated AR variants, this basal level of nuclear import can be augmented by unique COOH-terminal sequences that reconstitute classical AR NLS activity. However, this property is separable from ligand-independent transcriptional activity. Therefore, the AR splice variant core consisting of the AR NH2-terminal domain and DNA binding domain is sufficient for nuclear localization and androgen-independent transcriptional activation of endogenous AR target genes. Indeed, we show that truncated AR variants with nuclear as well as nuclear/cytoplasmic localization patterns can drive androgen-independent growth of PCa cells. Together, our data demonstrate that diverse truncatedARspecies with varying efficiencies of nuclear localization can contribute to castration-resistant PCa pathology by driving persistent ligand-independent AR transcriptional activity.