The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a developmental mechanism of crucial importance in establishing the body plan in many multicellular organisms. Several transduction pathways controlling the various steps of the morphological transition have been identified by molecular analyses of this process in cell lines and in vivo. The newly formed mesenchymal cells can exhibit locomotory and invasive phenotypes, suggesting that EMTs contribute to the progression of carcinoma. Diverse evidence indicates that EMT subprograms are involved in the appearance of different breast carcinoma types. Several normal and malignant breast cell lines are currently being analyzed to define key steps in EMT and to identify candidate genes. DNA profiling technology is also being applied to uncover pathways that lead to a metastatic phenotype.