Treatment of early breast cancer has been revolutionized during the past 30 years and new data continue to refine our knowledge of systemic treatments for this stage of disease. The updated worldwide overview has confirmed that, in terms of recurrence and survival, the balance of the known long-term benefits and risk favors some months of adjuvant polychemotherapy and/or a few years of tamoxifen for a wide range of patients. Both the overview and individual trials have shown that anthracycline-containing regimens can achieve additional reduction of the risk of disease relapse and death over cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil (CMF)-like regimens. Paclitaxel-containing regimens appear promising, but require additional confirmation with longer follow-up. By contrast, controversy still exists on the role of high-dose chemotherapy in high-risk patients. Primary (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy is a new modality to treat large operable breast cancers and offers the possibility of breast conservation with treatment results at least similar to those achieved with classical adjuvant regimens. In the near future, newer agents and information gained on the role of prognostic and predictive factors will probably increase the effectiveness of adjuvant and neoadjuvant treatments.