Objective - To determine the effect of finasteride on programmed cell death (apoptosis) of prostatic cells during prostatic involution in dogs with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Animals - 9 dogs with BPH. Procedure - Dogs were randomly assigned to treatment or control groups. Treatment dogs (n = 5) were administered finasteride (0.1 to 0.5 mg/kg, PO, q 24 h) for 16 weeks, whereas the 4 control dogs were administered an inert compound. Prostatic cells from the prostatic fluid portion of the ejaculate of treatment and control dogs were obtained before and 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 16 weeks after initiation of treatment. Cells were concentrated by use of centrifugation. Prostatic cells were examined for indications of apoptosis by use of a terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuracil triphosphate nick-end labeling technique. After receiving the inert compound for 16 weeks, the 4 control dogs were administered finasteride for 16 weeks, and evaluations were repeated. Results - Percentage of apoptotic prostatic cells in ejaculated prostatic fluid of treatment dogs increased significantly (from 9% before treatment to 33, 31, 26, and 27% after 1, 2, 3, and 8 weeks of treatment, respectively). There was no significant change in percentage of apoptotic prostatic cells in the ejaculated prostatic fluid of control dogs. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Finasteride-induced prostatic involution appears to be via apoptosis in dogs with BPH. Finasteride treatment of dogs with BPH causes prostatic involution by apoptosis rather than necrosis.