Breast carcinomas represent a heterogeneous group of tumors, with a diverse biologic behavior, outcome, and response to therapy. Recent studies have demonstrated that alterations in the expression of adhesion molecules in cancer cells are related to aggressiveness and poor prognosis. The aim of our study was to investigate the expression of P-cadherin in breast carcinomas and correlate it with estrogen receptor (ER) status. We selected 73 ductal carcinomas in situ (DCIS) and 149 invasive carcinomas of the breast, and assessed the expression of P-cadherin as well as other biologic markers. P-cadherin expression showed a strong inverse correlation with ER expression in both types of breast carcinoma (in situ and invasive). P-cadherin-positive and ER-negative tumors were related to a higher histologic grade, a high proliferation rate, and expression of c-erbB-2. We demonstrated that P-cadherin identifies a subgroup of breast carcinomas that lacks ER expression, and correlates with higher proliferation rates and other predictors of aggressive behavior. We believe that these tumors represent an advanced step in cancer progression, and our data support the hypothesis that an estrogen-independent pathway regulates P-cadherin expression.