This review explores the mechanistic basis of breast carcinoma progression by focusing on the contribution of integrins. Integrins are essential for progression not only for their ability to mediate physical interactions with extracellular matrices but also for their ability to regulate signaling pathways that control actin dynamics and cell movement, as well as for growth and survival. Our comments center on the alpha6 integrins (alpha6beta1 and alpha6beta4), which are receptors for the laminin family of basement membrane components. Numerous studies have implicated these integrins in breast cancer progression and have provided a rationale for studying the mechanistic basis of their contribution to aggressive disease. Recent work by our group and others on mechanisms of breast carcinoma invasion and survival that are influenced by the alpha6 integrins are discussed.