Claudins are transmembrane proteins that seal tight junctions, and are critical for maintaining cell-to-cell adhesion in epithelial cell sheets. However, their role in cancer progression remains largely unexplored. Here, we report that Claudin-7 (CLDN-7) expression is lower in invasive ductal carcinomas (IDC) of the breast than in normal breast epithelium, as determined by both RT-PCR (9/10) and Western analysis (6/8). Immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and IDC showed that the loss of CLDN-7 expression correlated with histological grade in both DCIS (P<0.001, n=38) and IDC (P=0.014, n=31), occurring predominantly in high-grade (Nuclear and Elston grade 3) lesions. Tissue array analysis of 355 IDC cases further confirmed the inverse correlation between CLDN-7 expression and histological grade (P=0.03). This pattern of expression is consistent with the biological function of CLDN-7, as greater discohesion is typically observed in high-grade lesions. In line with this observation, by IHC analysis, CLDN-7 expression was lost in the vast majority (13/17) of cases of lobular carcinoma in situ, which is defined by cellular discohesion. In fact, inducing disassociation of MCF-7 and T47D cells in culture by treating with HGF/scatter factor resulted in a loss of CLDN-7 expression within 24 h. Silencing of CLDN-7 expression correlated with promoter hypermethylation as determined by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and nucleotide sequencing in breast cancer cell lines (3/3), but not in IDCs (0/5). In summary, these studies provide insight into the potential role of CLDN-7 in the progression and ability of breast cancer cells to disseminate.