Glucose concentration may be an important factor in breast cancer cell proliferation, and the prevalence of breast cancer is high in diabetic patients. Leptin may also be an important factor since plasma levels of leptin correlated with TNM staging for breast cancer patients. The effects of glucose and leptin on breast cancer cell proliferation were evaluated by examining cell doubling time, DNA synthesis, levels of cell cycle related proteins, protein kinase C (PKC) isozyme expression, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) subtypes were determined following glucose exposure at normal (5.5 mM) and high (25 mM) concentrations with/without leptin in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. In MCF-7 cells, leptin and high glucose stimulated cell proliferation as demonstrated by the increases in DNA synthesis and expression of cdk2 and cyclin D1. PKC-alpha, PPARgamma, and PPARalpha protein levels were up-regulated following leptin and high glucose treatment in drug-sensitive MCF-7 cells. However, there was no significant effect of leptin and high glucose on cell proliferation, DNA synthesis, levels of cell cycle proteins, PKC isozymes, or PPAR subtypes in multidrug-resistant human breast cancer NCI/ADR-RES cells. These results suggested that hyperglycemia and hyperleptinemia increase breast cancer cell proliferation through accelerated cell cycle progression with up-regulation of cdk2 and cyclin D1 levels. This suggests the involvement of PKC-alpha, PPARalpha, and PPARgamma.