Growth of human tumor cells as three-dimensional (3D) multicellular spheroids modifies their invasive properties. Here we study the differences in the biological features of MCF-7, a human breast cancer cell line, and its multidrug resistant variant (MDR-MCF-7) cultured as spheroids or as monolayers. Three-dimensional culture decreased the proliferative rate of both cell lines, reduced the drug sensitivity of MCF-7 cells and did not affect the resistance of MDR-MCF-7 cells. Transmission electron microscopic studies and intercellular junctions labeling showed that MCF-7 spheroids had a junctional system involving E-cadherin, tight-junctions and desmosomes. In MDR-MCF-7 cell spheroids, cell cohesion was mostly due to membrane interdigitations. MDR-MCF-7 cells, but not their parental counterpart, displayed a higher invasive potential when cultured as spheroids, as shown in the Boyden chamber assay. 3D-induced invasiveness was correlated with serine protease and plasminogen activator (PA) secretion. MCF-7 cells did not show any tendency to invade, whatever the mode of culture. These results show that 3D-cultures as spheroids distinctively altered structural features of parental and MDR-MCF-7 cells. In MCF-7 cells, 3D-culture increased cell-cell contacts and drug resistance; in MDR-MCF-7 cells, it induced invasive properties.