Tenascin is generally classified as an anti-adhesive protein. Many cells do not adhere to tenascin or if they adhere they do not spread. In this study we analysed the stromal expression of tenascin-C in primary, second primary and recurrent breast carcinomas and the ability of tenascin-C to stimulate the focal adhesion plaques in MDA-MB-435 breast carcinoma cell line. To assess the tenascin-C expression formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of 20 specially selected breast carcinomas and their recurrences (14) or a second primary breast cancer of the same patient (6) were examined with immunohistochemical methods. We also studied the effect of tenascin-C on focal adhesion plaques added to MDA-MB-435 breast carcinoma cell line. During a median 2,9-year patient follow up 14 local recurrences and 6-second primary breast carcinomas developed in the 20 patients. In 3 cases a second recurrence occurred. The presence of tenascin in tumor cells, in the proliferating and some normal ducts, near to the tumor cell nests, in the stroma and in ductal carcinoma in situ component of the invasive carcinoma may suggest the role of tenascin played in tumor cell migration. Soluble tenascin added to the cell culture had minimal or no effect on focal adhesion plaques. Tenascin only seems not to be of prognostic value in predicting the local recurrence of breast cancer.