We have previously shown that human breast cancer is autonomous in the regulation of its intra-tissue oestradiol concentration. Breast fatty tissue does not have this capacity, but rather reflects changes in the peripheral oestradiol concentration. To further evaluate the relative contribution of breast cancer and fatty tissue to the maintenance of tumour oestradiol we investigated whether a tumour-directed gradient in aromatase activity and oestrogen levels existed in mastectomy specimens. No such gradient was found, however, for aromatase, oestrone, oestradiol and their sulphates. Aromatase activity (expressed per gram of tissue) and the concentrations of oestradiol, oestradiol sulphate and oestrone sulphate were higher in tumour than in breast fatty tissue. Fatty tissue had a higher oestrone concentration. It is tentatively concluded that breast tumour aromatase activity is more important for the maintenance of tumour oestradiol levels than aromatase in breast fatty tissue.