Four new azasteroid inhibitors of steroid 5 alpha-reductase were compared to the benchmark compound finasteride, each at a dose level of 1 mg/kg/day, as well to placebo and to castration, in seven groups of mature male beagle dogs with enlarged prostates. Prostate volumes were measured repetitively by a volume MRI method over 15 weeks of treatment. The study probed the obverse of the familiar relation between DHT and prostate growth, and provides the first documentation of a tight negative correlation between prostate regression and the prostatic concentration of DHT across a range of treatment regimens (r = -0.982). In this first direct comparison study of structure vs. in vivo activity for several azasteroids in the dog model of BPH, relative efficacy for induction of shrinkage of the dog prostate did not correlate at all with the inhibitor's relative activity against the dog 5 alpha-reductase in vitro. On the basis of the relative IC50 values it would not have been predicted that, at the dose tested, the analogue MK-434 (17 beta-benzoyl-4-aza-5 alpha-androst-1-en-3-one) was distinguished from the other inhibitors with respect to the induction of faster and more complete regression (69%) as well as greater reduction in prostatic DHT (95%), both of which approached the castrated dog levels of 75% prostatic shrinkage and > 98% reduction in DHT. Treatment with any one of the five azasteroids induced two- to five-fold increases in prostatic testosterone. However, total androgen was conserved at the placebo control level. Despite the differences noted, each azasteroid tested induced a highly significant decrease in prostatic volume that correlated tightly with a decreased prostatic DHT level in canine spontaneous BPH.