The prognostic significance of the proliferative activities in intraductal components and invasive foci was investigated using 157 cases of invasive ductal breast carcinoma in which intraductal components predominated. Proliferative activity was expressed as the number of MIB1-positive nuclei per 1000 cancer cells in the most active areas of intraductal components (MLI-DCIS) or invasive foci (MLI-INV). MLI-DCIS correlated closely with MLI-INV (r = 0.710, 95% confidence interval, 0.623-0.780; P < 0.0001). Both MLI-DCIS and MLI-INV were related to oestrogen receptor (ER) (P = 0.0006, P = 0.0028 respectively), grade of invasive tumour (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001 respectively) and classification of intraductal components (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001 respectively). In the univariate disease-free survival analysis, both MLI-DCIS and MLI-INV were found to be significant (P < 0.0001, P = 0.0003 respectively). However, in node-negative cases, only MLI-DCIS was significant (P = 0.0416). Multivariate analysis revealed that MLI-DCIS was significant not only in all cases, but also in node-negative cases (P = 0.0223, P = 0.0426 respectively), whereas MLI-INV was not. These findings indicate that MIB1-determined proliferative activity of intraductal components is a significant prognostic determinant of invasive ductal breast carcinoma in which intraductal components predominate.