In the present study, the concentrations of estrone (E(1)), estradiol (E(2)) and their sulfates (E(1)S and E(2)S), as well as the sulfatase and aromatase activities, were evaluated in post-menopausal patients with breast cancer. Comparative studies of the evaluation of these parameters were carried out in (a) tumor tissue, (b) areas surrounding the tumor, and (c) areas distant from the tumor (glandular tissue) which were considered as normal tissue. The levels (in pm/g; mean +/- SEM) were: for E(1) in the (a) area: 320+/-95; in (b): 232+/-86; and in (c): 203+/-71; for E(2) in the (a) area: 388+/-106; in (b): 224+/-48; and in (c): 172+/-80; for E(1)S in the (a) area: 454+/-110; in (b): 259+/-90; and in (c): 237+/-65; for E(2)S in the (a) area:318+/-67; in (b): 261+/-72; and in (c): 232+/-75, respectively. The values of E(1)S and E(2) were significantly higher in the tumor tissue than in the area considered as normal. In all the tissues studied, the sulfatase activity was much higher than aromatase (130-200). In addition, the sulfatase levels were significantly higher in the peripheral and in the tumor tissue than in the area considered as normal. The levels of aromatase were significantly higher in tumoral than in normal tissue. The present data extend the "intracrine concept" for breast cancer tumors. The physiopathology and clinical significance as promoter parameters in breast cancer is to be explored.