Background: To study the expression pattern, localisation and potential clinical significance of aquaporin water channels (AQP) both in prostate cancer (PC) cell lines and in benign and malignant human prostate tissue. Methods: The AQP transcript and protein expression of HPrEC, LNCaP, DU-145 and PC3 cell lines was investigated using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunofluorescence (IF) microscopy labelling. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed to assess AQP protein expression in surgical specimens of benign prostatic hyperplasia as well as in PC. Tissue mRNA expression of AQPs was quantified by single-step reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Relative gene expression was determined using the 40-ΔCT method and correlated to clinicopathological parameters. Results: Transcripts of AQP 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11 were expressed in all four cell lines, while AQP 9 transcripts were not detected in malignant cell lines. IF microscopy confirmed AQP 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 protein expression. IHC revealed highly heterogeneous AQP 3 protein expression in PC specimens, with a marked decrease in expression in tumours of increasing malignancy. Loss of AQP 9 was shown in PC specimens. mRNA expression of AQP3 was found to be negatively correlated to PSA levels (ρ = - 0.354; p = 0.013), D'Amico risk stratification (ρ = - 0.336; p = 0.012), ISUP grade (ρ = - 0.321; p = 0.017) and Gleason score (ρ = - 0.342; p = 0.011). Conclusions: This is the first study to systematically characterize human prostate cell lines, benign prostatic hyperplasia and PC in relation to all 13 members of the AQP family. Our results indicate the differential expression of several AQPs in benign and malignant prostate tissue. A significant correlation was observed between AQP 3 expression and tumour grade, with progressive loss in more malignant tumours. Taken together, AQPs may play a role in the progression of PC and AQP expression patterns may serve as a prognostic marker.