MCF-7 cells are extensively used as a cell model to investigate human breast tumors and the cellular mechanism of antitumor drugs such as doxorubicin (DOX), an anthracycline antitumor drug widely used in clinical chemotherapy. To understand the effects of DOX on the protein expression, we perform a comprehensive proteomics to survey global changes in proteins after DOX treatment in MCF-7 cells. Exposure of MCF-7 cells to 0.1 microM DOX for 2 days induced a differentiation-like phenotype with prominent perinuclear autocatalytic vacuoles, abundant filamentous material, and irregular microvilli at the cell surface. In this study, we also present a proteome reference map of MCF-7 cells with 21 identified protein spots via analysis of N-terminal sequencing, mass spectrometry, immunoblot and/or computer matching with protein database. Based on the proteome map, we found that DOX causes a markedly decrease in the levels of three isoforms of heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) whereas the levels of other stress associated proteins including HSP60, calreticulin, and protein disulfide isomerase were not significantly altered in DOX-treated MCF-7 cells. Taken together, we suggest that that action of DOX on breast tumor cells may be partly related to dysregulation of HSP27 expression. Modulation of HSP27 levels may be a clinically useful potential target for design of antitumor drugs and controlling breast tumor growth.