Taxanes are effective in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Docetaxel has been shown to be more potent than paclitaxel in inducing bcl-2 phosphorylation and apoptosis and is clinically active in some paclitaxel-resistant breast tumors. HER-2/neu overexpression has been shown to correlate with resistance to hormonal therapy as well as chemotherapy. Using a HER-2/neu transfected MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line, we investigated the role of HER-2/neu overexpression on resistance to paclitaxel and docetaxel treatment. A control vector transfected MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line (MCF/neo) and a HER-2/neu transfected MCF-7 line (MCF/18) were treated with various concentrations of docetaxel or paclitaxel. Cell number was assessed using the MTT tetrazolium dye assay. In the control vector transfected MCF/neo cell line, paclitaxel and docetaxel gave similar dose-dependent growth inhibition ( p = 0.175). In HER-2/neu transfected MCF/18 cells, docetaxel treatment resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition similar to that seen in MCF/neo cells. Paclitaxel, however, gave significantly less growth inhibition than docetaxel in the HER-2/neu overexpressing MCF/18 cells (p = 0.0003). These data suggest that HER-2/neu overexpression may contribute to paclitaxel resistance. In contrast, the cytotoxic effects of docetaxel in these breast carcinoma cells are not affected by HER-2/neu expression. Therefore, docetaxel may be the preferred taxane therapy in HER-2/neu overexpressing breast tumors.